Movement in Photography

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Over the summer I was a reporter for the BBF (British Baseball Federation) and these photographs are some of the 400 shots I took during a tournament in London. Baseball is an unusual sport to play in this country and I am aware that the context of this shot, within the sport and the game itself, may be unclear.

Photojournalism is mostly about being in the right place at the right time. It is about awareness and pre-empting events before they happen. For instance, I set up this shot the framing, zoom and focus before the play/event even started to take place. This always results in a lot of missed shots, the speed of the play compared to the relatively poor shutter speed of the camera normally means that the moment alludes the cameras lens. This, however, was almost perfect.

Photograph 2 in the sequence of five was the one which accompanied the report. The boy dives back to first base just beating the ‘tag’ from the first-baseman. The grimace on the boys face, his body at full stretch and parallel to the ground made for a very dramatic and dynamic shot. The dust also adds the allusion of movement to the shot, representing the speed of the action taking place. The sequence itself also gives the allusion of movement, but only one photo can be used and the photos context within the sequence is lost.

The people surrounding the play are also important within the frame. The pitcher looks on intently, with clenched fists, hoping for the out. The umpire (in blue in the right of the shot) also looks on at the play. As the official he is the person who decides whether the boy is safe or out on this play. The camera, who’s authority is unquestioned when it comes to the accuracy of its depiction of the play(?), is judging the play but also the decision of the umpire. In Photograph 5 the umpire gives the safe signal (the correct call) and finishes the sequence and the play as it happened. It gives us the judging eye alongside the umpire; we too are judging the moment.

But, can we capture movement within one photograph? I believe Photograph 2 hints towards the movement of the play, but can never adequately capture the moment. In fact the image is too good for the moment itself, the image occurred within a fraction of a second and no one else, not even me, saw the play, or can remember the play, in that much detail. Is this really what happened then? Well yes, but at the same time it isn’t. Is photography beyond reality, a kind of hyper-reality? Or does it simply capture a moment which we cannot, or did not witness to its full extent?

I could go on about how this misrepresented the game itself, and how the play didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but is inflated by its use in the report. But I won’t, I’ve already been too cynical.

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