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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dave Black - The Art Of Sport

When Dave Black sees photographers collecting at a spot on the field, he runs—the other way. His images capture a different ­­­kind of decisive moment.

The Art Of Sport If there's a single word to describe Dave Black's photographic sensibilities, it's “graphic.” While he's a photojournalist of the first degree, Black thinks of himself more as a photographer and an artist, and his dramatic images bear that out.

Says Black about those graphic sensibilities, “I tend to be more artistic than journalistic with my images. I'm always looking at things in a very artistic and graphic way. I guess I've always been like that. My worst two years as a professional photographer—worst both creatively and financially—were the two years when I abandoned that graphic style.”

When you're looking at a Black image, be it of a swimming meet or a track-and-field competition or anything else, you get a sense that Black isn't so much trying to get The Shot that will appear on the front pages of sports sections around the U.S.; rather, there's a feeling that he sees the entire event differently. The venue is a set and the participants are models that are performing in a scripted manner.

Black's style is borne out of his own experience as an athlete. In high school and college, he was part of championship gymnastics teams. When he's shooting, he's more interested in the physical aspects of the sport—what the athletes are doing with their bodies.

“I look for how they get to the finish line more than what happens after the finish line,” he says. “I try to capture the action unfolding. The emotion after it's over isn't nearly as compelling for me personally.”

In photography, there's the oft-used term of “the decisive moment.” It has become almost clichéd, but for photojournalism, the term is more than relevant. We tend to think of the decisive moment as that instant when the runner crosses the tape or the receiver pulls down the ball in the end zone. Black sees a different kind of decisive moment. Yes, he might catch those SportsCenter highlight instants, but more often than not he gets a shot that cuts to the core of the contest. For Black, the decisive moment has more to do with revealing the soul of a sport than the finish of a race or a touchdown.


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