PDN Photo of the Day

Telling the Story of Sports Photography

There is a lot that goes into a great sports photograph—it has the right perspective and freezes action at the right moment, it depicts the character of the athletes or tells the story of the game. With luck, it shows velocity, power, grace, skill, humor, drama, humanity and more. On the eve of the Rio Summer Olympics, the Brooklyn Museum celebrates sports photography with “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present,” which collects more than 200 images from across the broadest definition of the genre, from photojournalists covering Monday Night Football to nineteenth century photographers pushing the technical boundaries of the medium to contemporary photographers exploring the meaning of sports as culture. There are Andy Warhol’s Polaroids of stars ranging from Wayne Gretzky to Muhammad Ali; vintage baseball cards; aerial views of boxing and wrestling and swimming, and dramatic moments ranging from from Derek Jeter sliding into base to Greg Louganis hitting his head in the 1988 Summer Games. There are more placid pictures, too, such as Stanley Kubrick’s 1950 portrait of Rocky Graziano in the shower or Richard Avedon’s portrait of Lew Alcindor before he became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Says Gail Buckland, who curated the show, (as well as the 2009 exhibition “Who Shot Rock & Roll”), “Seeing athletic greatness, we both recognize our personal physical limitations and delight in bodies and minds taken to new heights. To play and to watch is to be in the moment. Still photographers are masters of moments.”

Related Stories:
The Wacky Side of the Tour de France
David Burnett’s Angle on the Olympics
Dylan Coulter Puts Sports Portraits in Motion (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)

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