Sporting images that score on every level

How do you select just six pictures out of 766 images, the cream of Reuters sports photography in this century for this feature? It certainly is a very difficult and subjective task, unlikely to do justice to all the great images used in this book, Sport in the 21st Century.

When you start sports photography and proudly come back from an assignment with your first action picture and show it to an editor, or a more experienced colleague, you will be quickly told: ‘Yes, it’s a good moment but the background is really poor.’

This is certainly not the case with the Dylan Martinez picture (6) – he just nailed it – this is the right moment with a great background. You just want to keep looking at the picture and discover its secrets. Young photographers please take note.

Our photographer Paul Vereeker ‘saw’his picture (1) before the event even started. This is the ultimate planned shot. He has spent a lot of time finding the right angle, the proper long lens and experimented endlessly to come up with a stunning picture shortly after the start of the qualifying practice. There is a great flow and a wonderful rhythm to the image. It is a strangely quiet picture especially considering how noisy a motorbike race can be.

The picture by Max Rossi (2) won the first prize in the World Press Photo Sports Category in 2007. Gymnastics is a tough sport to cover and finding a ‘new angle’is very difficult. Max managed to line up the picture perfectly and spent a lot of time to come up with the version of the image he was happy with – the right moment when both gymnasts happen to be in the picture. You see it for a fraction of a second and you’d better react – he did and produced a wonderful image.

Very often the best image from an assignment is not that unbeatable peak action but a well-done, storytelling news picture. Shaun Best, who is certainly no stranger to action photography, got a lot of ink with this extremely well-observed picture (3), illustrating the long rain delays at the US Open tennis championship.

We have hundreds of lovely pictures of Chinese NBA star Yao Ming in action but how can you better show the effects of his success than Jason Lee’s picture of Chinese kids playing basketball in a cave (5). Lee’s very successful use of the wide angle lens certainly paid-off in this eye-grabbing image. Sports photography is not all about catching highly-paid professional athletes in the peak of action. There is no crowd, there is no glass backboard but there is sport and there is passion, regardless of the location.

Slow motion blur to illustrate fast moving action is an age-old trick by sports photographers but rarely has it been done better than in this frame by David Gray (4). The picture does exactly what the photographer intended it to do perfectly capturing the challenge of springboard diving. It’s certainly not a traditional sports picture but it has seen a lot of play in newspapers.

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