Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 To The Present by Gail BucklandWho Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 To The Present by Gail Buckland

Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 To The Present

byGail Buckland

Hardcover | July 5, 2016

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From the creator/editor of Who Shot Rock & Roll (“I loved this book” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times. “Whatever Gail Buckland writes, I want to read”), a book that brings together the work of 165 extraordinary photographers, most of their images heralded, most of their names unknown; photographs that capture the essence of athletes’ mastery of mind/body/soul against the odds, doing the impossible, seeming to defy the laws of gravity, the laws of physics, and showing what human will, discipline, drive, and desire look like when suspended in time. The first book to show the range, cultural importance, and aesthetics of sports photography, much of it legendary, all of it powerful.

Here, in more than 280 spectacular images—more than 130 in full color—are great action photographs; portraits of athletes, famous and unknown; athletes off the field and behind the scenes; athletes practicing, working out, the daily relentless effort of training and achieving physical perfection.

Buckland writes that sports photographers have always been central to the technical advancement of photography, that they have designed longer lenses, faster shutters, motor drives, underwater casings, and remote controls, allowing us to see what we could never see—and hold on to—with the naked eye.

Here are photographs by such masters as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Danny Lyon, Walker Evans, Annie Leibovitz, and 160 more, names not necessarily known to the public but whose photographic work is considered iconic . . . Here are photographs of Willie Mays . . . Carl Lewis . . . Ian Botham . . . Kobe Bryant . . . Magic Johnson . . . Muhammad Ali . . . Serena Williams . . . Bobby Orr . . . Stirling Moss . . . Jesse Owens . . . Mark Spitz . . . Roger Federer . . . Jackie Robinson.

Here is the work of the great sports photographers Neil Leifer, Walter Iooss Jr., Bob Martin, Al Bello, Robert Riger, and Heinz Kleutmeier of Sports Illustrated, who was the first to put a camera at the bottom of an Olympic swimming pool and photograph swimmers from below . . . Here are pictures by Charles Hoff, the New York Daily News photographer of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, whose images of the 1936 Berlin Olympics still inspire shock and awe . . . and those of Ernst Haas, whose innovative color pictures of bullfighting of the 1950s remain poetic evocations of a bloody sport . . .

To make the selections for Who Shot Sports, Buckland, a former curator of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and Benjamin Menschel Distinguished Visiting Professor at Cooper Union, has drawn upon the work of more than fifty archives, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to Sports Illustrated, Condé Nast, Getty Images, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, L’Équipe, The New York Times, and the archives of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.

Here are classic and unknown sports images that capture the uncapturable, that allow us to experience “kinetic beauty,” and that give us the essence and meaning—the transcendent power—of sports.

About The Author

GAIL BUCKLAND has written or been a collaborator on fourteen books of photographic history, including Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography, The Magic Image (with Cecil Beaton), The American Century (by Harold Evans), and Who Shot Rock & Roll. She lives in Brooklyn and upstate New York.
Who Shot Rock And Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-present
Who Shot Rock And Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-present

by Gail Buckland

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Title:Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 To The PresentFormat:HardcoverDimensions:344 pages, 10.5 × 9.8 × 1 inPublished:July 5, 2016Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385352239

ISBN - 13:9780385352239

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Chapter OneThe Decisive MomentHenri Cartier-­Bresson coined the phrase the decisive moment to describe the instant when the action before the lens is not simply captured by the photographer, but organized in such a way as to give it power and grace, balance and form. The decisive moment is one of the core concepts in the history of photography.The photographer’s decisive moments are not the same as those of the athletes or the fans watching the game. Photographing the winning touchdown, the diver’s perfect entry into the water, the power of a skier racing in the giant slalom, can make for an image that will go down in sports history, but are not necessarily decisive moments in the photographic sense. In addition to satisfying their editors and the public, who often want to see only the highlights of the game, the finest sports photographers are seeking to make pictures that are greater than a single defining action, pictures with aesthetic qualities that last through time.Leslie Jones (1886–­1967) was a staff photographer for the Boston Herald-­Traveler from 1917 to 1956. He covered all types of events, and his archive at the Boston Public Library of approximately forty thousand glass plates is especially rich in sports history.“That was all there was to do on a Saturday,” Mark Leech told me. “Kick a ball around or go to a football game. I played on Saturday mornings and got the money together to go to a match on Saturday afternoon, then played again on Sunday morning. If I washed a few cars, it was off to Arsenal or Tottenham. If I didn’t have much money, I would go to a local amateur match.”Leech tried to get his O levels (a midlevel high school degree) but passed only two of the seven exams. Too proud to go to summer school, he found that his job prospects were slim, but at the employment agency they actually had a job that appealed: “Trainee Sports Photographer.”He got the job based on his knowledge of sports, not of photography. Those Saturdays of doing nothing other than watching sports on television and kicking a ball paid off.The job description wasn’t quite correct. Leech spent all his time with his hands in chemicals or cold water. But he could ask the photographers questions. That Christmas, he was given a Russian-­made Zenith B with a 50mm lens. It cost his family £40, a lot of money, but it marked the beginning of Leech’s career. He started by photographing his own soccer games and the results were good enough to be published. He soon became a “sports photographer.”Mark Leech is much more than an excellent cameraman. He is an archivist and historian and the founder of his own independent agency, Offside Sports. Because he knows what is good and what is important in sports photography, he purchased and now champions the photography of the greatest British sports photographer of the past, Gerry Cranham.The “couple” in the center of the photo on page 2 is doing an illegal dance. At free kicks and corner kicks in this tournament, both teams held on to their opponents to restrict their attacking runs. For the most part, the referees ignored it. Leech was sitting in the elevated press tribune with his 500mm lens, the best place to register the choreography—­as well as the looks on the players’ faces. Leech admits it was “luck” that all of them were looking in his direction as the ball arrived in the Dutch penalty area. Each face is a study in focus and every muscle is taut in anticipation.It is a beautiful time of day at the old Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. “The light could be to die for in the early evening,” says Damian Strohmeyer. And, he adds, “The old stadium afforded a unique vantage point.”In his classic The Photographer’s Eye, John Szarkowski divides the book into five chapters: The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, Time, and Vantage Point. Szarkowski, the legendary director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, would have found many of the key elements he valued in photography in Strohmeyer’s photograph.“The frame” is perfect, the third base line leading the eye to the excitement surrounding the dust storm at home. The “vantage point” is high enough to show the gradations of color, textures, and markings on the field, but close enough for the viewer to feel part of the action. Strohmeyer made a picture with all the elements in balance. The shapes of the bodies are part of “the thing itself,” the “detail” is the hand on home plate, and “time” is what the photograph is all about.Michaela Pfundner, head of the Department of Photographs at the National Library, Vienna, knew Lothar Rübelt (1901–­1990). So did her professor, the social historian Gerhard Jagschitz, and together they have provided biographical information and penetrating insight into one of the most prolific European sports photographers from the 1920s and 1930s.Pfundner is in charge of the Rübelt archive, on loan from his son, born in 1938, who never lived with his father. The life story of Lothar Rübelt and his activities before, during, and after World War II was carefully edited by the photographer himself. Pfundner’s scholarship shows the contradictions in this story and also highlights Rübelt’s significant contributions in moving sports photography from the static to the dynamic.Rübelt, born in Vienna, was proud to claim Austrian citizenship, frequently mentioning that he was the only official Austrian photographer at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Technically, he was German. During the Austro-­Hungarian Empire, nationality was passed through the mother, not place of birth. Rübelt’s German mother, with whom he lived his entire life, never married and raised her two sons, Lothar and Ekkehard, on her own. All three were passionate about photography and worked together to turn their passion into a successful family business.Even as students, Lothar and Ekkehard recognized they could, because of their own athleticism, take very different types of sports photographs than those that were currently being done and started selling their pictures to publications. They had their mother develop the plates and film and make prints, as well as do the bookkeeping. In 1924, each brother purchased a motorcycle, earning them the title of Austria’s “first motorized photojournalists.” They consistently beat the competition in getting their photographs to publications. They were using faster and lighter cameras, too. In the mid-­1920s they used the Ermanox, which had smaller glass plates than previous cameras and faster exposure times.Their interest extended to cinema and they made an original and delightful, if somewhat blurry, film of their 1926 trip by motorcycle in the Dolomites titled By Motorcycle Through the Clouds. Tragically, during the editing of the film, Ekkehard, still in his twenties, was killed in a motorcycle accident. When Michaela Pfundner entered Rübelt’s home sixty years later, the shrine to his brother was still in the corner of the apartment the three Rübelts had shared.No camera suited Rübelt, the skier, the runner, the mountain climber, better than the Leica, which he purchased in 1929.My camera dealer eloquently and enthusiastically sold me a funny little thing, that produced negatives the size of a postage stamp . . . and with this Leica I was able to take photographs like I would never have done before. . . . All of a sudden, I had endless amounts of negative reserves, did not need to be greedy with the glass plate negatives and could develop a completely new mentality of Photography. . . . It did not take long before the image quality had so much improved that I could completely switch to 35 mm.Rübelt was never interested in posing athletes or taking pictures of the winners receiving their medals. For him, as for his contemporaries—the Swiss photographer Lothar Jeck; the Hungarian Martin Munkácsi; the German photographers Gerhard Riebicke, Max Schirner, and Paul Wolff—the new vision, made possible by new camera technology, was catching movement, showing action, conveying the excitement of sports.As early as December 19, 1934, Rübelt applied for admission to the Third Reich’s Committee of Photojournalists and became chairman of the Organization of Austrian Photojournalists. This helped him get work with the premier publication in the German-­speaking world, Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, which had a circulation of nearly two million. In 1936, he became an “official photojournalist of the Olympic Summer Games in Berlin,” the “high point of my career,” he said. The second special Olympics edition of Berliner Illustrirte was half filled with his pictures. Rübelt was one of the most prolific photographers at the Berlin Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee has a large collection of his photographs, purchased directly from him.Rübelt was unscrupulous about moving into positions of authority in photographic unions and companies that were made vacant by Nazi racist regulations. After movie theaters were “Aryanized,” Rübelt’s application to purchase shares was accompanied by a note stating his commitment to the Reich and that he had “successfully repelled the Jews in my field of work.”Even before Kristallnacht, November 9–­10, 1938, which marked the date after which no Jewish athlete could participate in sporting events, Jewish sports photographers Herbert Sonnenfeld, Abraham Pisarek, and Martin Dzubas, who died in a concentration camp, were only permitted to work for the Jewish press under highly restrictive conditions.The photograph published here shows runners from three Viennese athletic clubs. The runner on the right wears the team shirt of Hakoah, the Austrian Jewish sports club, which had the Star of David as its logo. As this photograph illustrates, one of Rübelt’s strengths was capturing not only the body language of the athlete but also his facial expression.During World War II, Rübelt was assigned to the propaganda division of the German army. After the war, denial about being a Nazi aside, he was no longer in much demand as a photojournalist and switched to advertising. His best pictures during the postwar years are composite photographs showing a complete sports action, such as skiing down a mountain, often composed of eight to twelve individual photographs mounted together. He continued to shoot sports, going to all the Olympics through Tokyo in 1964. And he was an avid athlete till the end of his life.The six-­day bicycle race that took place at the Vélodrome d’Hiver in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower, was one of the most popular French sporting events. The great French photographer Henri Cartier-­Bresson captured it all: families with baskets of food, famous actors giving their encouragement, masseuses rubbing the tired legs of cyclists, athletes reading newspapers while going round and round, and competitors taking catnaps off the circuit with their legs perched high on the handlebars of their bikes. Cartier-­Bresson showed the spare wheels, rims, and chains neatly stored in the center of the velodrome, lovers in quiet corners, onlookers with their baguettes before going home. The French, as exemplified by the Tour d’France, enjoy lengthy bicycle races. Endurance is valued as much as speed.And endurance was at the heart of Cartier-­Bresson’s war experience. He was captured by the Nazis and held as a prisoner of war for thirty-­five months. His two early attempts at escape failed and resulted in his solitary confinement. His third escape was successful and he immediately went to work for the French Underground. His film about returning French prisoners and displaced persons (The Return) is heart-­wrenching and poetic.When Cartier-­Bresson photographed the six-­day bicycle race at the Vélodrome, he was also photographing ghosts. The greatest mass arrest of Jews ever carried out on French soil, known as the Vél’ d’Hiv Round-up, took place there. French officials collaborated with the Nazis in 1942 to bring, over a two-­day period, more than thirteen thousand persons, mostly Jewish women and children, to this sports arena. From Vél d’Hiv the victims were deported to death camps in Poland. What Cartier-­Bresson felt in this cavernous hall, taking his photographs, is impossible to know. Two years after Cartier-­Bresson completed his photo essay, this winter stadium of shame, as well as sports, was demolished.Al Bello, chief sports photographer for Getty Images North America, is warm and modest and begins the interview with “My parents raised me right. To say please and thank you. Two sisters. Being raised right has a lot to do with doing things right.” His stellar career as a sports photographer and the friends and associates he has made over the years attest to his “doing things right.”Al Bello went to South Shore High School in Canarsie, Brooklyn, a very large high school (at its peak, there were 6,800 hormone-­charged teenagers in attendance). Even though Bello is not very big, he played football in high school and at Stony Brook University and was captain of both teams. His success, in part, as one of the world’s leading sports photographers is because he knows how to train. “Sports photography,” Bello comments, “is very physical. Like being an athlete.”Bello took only one photography class at Stony Brook, but it was enough to “catch the camera bug.” He joined the school newspaper and started doing freelance work for the local newspaper, Three Village Herald. Except for that one photo class, he has done all his training on the job—­but he has trained with many of the best photographers and editors in the field.Bello recalls, quite tenderly, showing his father his portfolio after he graduated and his father saying it was good, “but what are you going to do now?” What Bello did was call around. He found a job at Ring magazine in the darkroom. He printed by day, and at night and on weekends he photographed boxing and wrestling matches. By shooting, printing, and being a voracious reader of photography books and articles, he started to learn his profession. But he wanted more varied experiences than Ring could provide.The most important sports photo agency in the world was Allsport, started by Tony Duffy in London in 1968, and by 1990, when Bello visited Allsport’s office in Los Angeles, they also had a thriving business in the United States. He showed his portfolio to Steve Powell, who had joined the agency in 1971 and as general manager helped transform it into the leader in the field. Powell did not offer Bello a job. Bello went back two more times and finally said, “I can’t leave here without a job. I want to work for you.” When Powell asked Bello “What else can you do?” Bello said, “Roofer, busboy, etc.” and that convinced Powell that Bello knew how to work hard. He reminded Bello that other job-­seeking photographers had better portfolios.Allsport produced phenomenal photographers through the apprenticeship system. Bello was pushed hard, and made to do the daily chores of captioning film and transparencies, taking orders, and filing transparencies (an opportunity to look carefully at the ones marked as the best), but he was also allowed to go out, shoot, and make mistakes. Tony Duffy encouraged Bello, gave him assignments and room for error. Bello assisted the much more experienced Mike Powell, Steve’s younger brother.

Editorial Reviews

Acclaim for Gail Buckland’s Who Shot Sports   “Monumental . . . Indisputably, the most comprehensive and definitive tribute to the long unsung photographers who shot our most iconic sports photographs—photographs that reside in the collective memory of not just sports fans, but of anyone who recognizes great works of art. Buckland, doff your cap—you’ve hit a walk-off home run . . . A remarkable accomplishment . . . Excellent . . . Lucid and illuminating.” —Peter Stamelman, Brooklyn Daily Eagle   “An engrossing photo exhibition that more than proves the truism that a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words . . . Fascinating and fun . . . Inspiring . . . Buckland’s knowledge of the history, camera equipment, and photographers is comprehensive. She gives thrilling accounts of the lengths that photographers go through to get the shots they want—many times as physically daring as the athletes they are shooting . . . Illuminates the wide world of photosport journalism.” —Lew Whittington, New York Journal of Books   “Dazzling . . . Brilliant . . . Who Shot Sports offers a chance to show sports photographers some penitent tribute.” —Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker   “A sumptuous study . . . A glorious journey across time and space, bringing us around the world with style and grace . . . Buckland has selected works that showcase the power of photography to fleeting moments that can make or break the game . . . Who Shot Sports is not simply the greatest moments of the game, but a brilliantly curated effort to recreate the multiple sensations of competition as well . . . Buckland has used her wealth of knowledge to craft a singular volume that has been long missing.” —Miss Rosen, Crave   “Wonderful . . . A tribute to sports photographers everywhere . . . Buckland writes with such authority that her thoughts on photography, as an art form, and her analysis of individual images in and out of the sports context make this a must-read for pop culture enthusiasts and anyone interested in photography.” —Publishers Weekly   “Superb . . . illuminating . . . iconic . . . This is a collection of superlatives, with both subjects and artists in the finest of forms; it’s difficult to single out highlights . . . Essential for all students of sports history and of photography and a fine gift for buffs as well.” —Kirkus (Starred Review)