Exhibitions, Photobooks

He Shoots, He scores! A History of Sports Photography

© Howard Schatz & The Artist

A new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum hedges its bets on a display of commercial photography that not only charts the technical advancement of the camera but also reminds us of their gold-standard achievements

2016 has already proved to be an eventful year for sport.

As we were just about getting over the Euros hangover, Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the second time, Russia has been banned from competing in the Rio Olympics this summer, we sadly bid farewell to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, and, how could we forget the shock victory of Leicester City football club winning the Premier League.

Bob Martin (British, born 1959). Serena, 2004, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 8 1/2 x 12 7/8 in. (21.6 x 32.8cm). Courtesy Bob Martin

Bob Martin (British, born 1959). Serena, 2004, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 8 1/2 x 12 7/8 in. (21.6 x 32.8cm). Courtesy Bob Martin

The new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present” could not be more timely.

Boasting a collection of over 230 photographs and featuring some 170 international photographers, the show seeks to provide a platform for the photographers that were the masters of suspending movement.

Gerard Rancinan (French, born 1953). Laura Flessel, 2001. Chromogenic print, 31½ x 39 6/8 in. (80 x 101 cm).

Gerard Rancinan (French, born 1953). Laura Flessel, 2001. Chromogenic print, 31½ x 39 6/8 in. (80 x 101 cm).

Daniel Rodrigues (Portuguese, born France 1987). Football in Guinea Bissau, March 3, 2012, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 13 5/16 x 20 in. (33.9 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist

Daniel Rodrigues (Portuguese, born France 1987). Football in Guinea Bissau, March 3, 2012, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 13 5/16 x 20 in. (33.9 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist

“No one captures moments like sports photographers,” says curator and author Gail Buckland. “People don’t understand the mastery in the beauty of sports photography because they get so dazzled by either the action or the individual.

I want to turn the lens on the photographers and tell their stories. Explain who they are and tell something about their professional life and their passion.”

Rather than merely glorifying notable athletes that have entertained us over the decades, the exhibition is divided according to the thought process and interests of the photographers.

For example, “The Decisive Moment”, “Portraits”, “Vantage Point” and “For the Love of Sport”. These also represent the titles of the chapters of the photobook spin-off, where Buckland includes a number of extended texts, analysing and praising the calibre of the sports photography.

Jules Beau (French, 1864–1932). Major Taylor in the Collection Jules Beau, Photographie Sportive, 1906-1907. Aristotype on paper, 9 13/16 x 13 3/8 in. (25 x 34 cm). Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Jules Beau (French, 1864–1932). Major Taylor in the Collection Jules Beau, Photographie Sportive, 1906-1907. Aristotype on paper, 9 13/16 x 13 3/8 in. (25 x 34 cm). Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Franck Seguin (French, born 1960). Mixed Martial Arts Fight, UFC 154, Montreal, Canada, 2012, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 9 1/4 x 14 in. (23.7 x 35.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist

Franck Seguin (French, born 1960). Mixed Martial Arts Fight, UFC 154, Montreal, Canada, 2012, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 9 1/4 x 14 in. (23.7 x 35.6 cm).

Buckland insists that the book, just like the exhibition, is not a hall of fame for Olympians and celebrities, although naturally, many make an appearance.

Rather, it is a study of the skill of suspending motion and the glory of human form through photography.

We are not only invited to admire the definition of muscle and the thunder of weight hitting the ground, but also the passion of amateurs, the tension of devoted spectators and cultural significance of team spirit.

Krystle Wright (Australian, born 1987). Freefall, Michael Tomchek leaps off Castleton Tower (400ft) as fellow BASE jumpers look on, Castle Valley, Utah, 2010, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 13 1/4 x 20 in. (33.9 x 50.8 cm). Collection of Krystle Wright

Krystle Wright (Australian, born 1987). Freefall, Michael Tomchek leaps off Castleton Tower (400ft) as fellow BASE jumpers look on, Castle Valley, Utah, 2010, printed 2016. Inkjet print, 13 1/4 x 20 in. (33.9 x 50.8 cm). Collection of Krystle Wright