Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Mike Powell: Grace, Beauty…Action!
Mike Powell’s sports photography goes far beyond the usual moment in time
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
An early passion for sports photography led Mike Powell to travel the globe, photographing every major event on the sporting calendar for 25 years. Prominently featured in an array of editorial and commercial work, Powell has come a long way since cutting his teeth on hefty manual-focus gear back in the 1970s.
The power of the image struck a chord with Powell at a very young age, following photojournalists Eamonn McCabe and Chris Smith at the Guardian and the Observer in the UK.
"They showed athletes in a dynamic way that was impossible to see live or on TV," says Powell. "Their shots were amazing because they captured the beauty and grace of the athlete. It was just as much about the creative as it was the hardcore action, and I responded to that."
It all started for Powell as a teenager when he began working at the photo agency Allsport part time, printing endless black-and-white prints or processing E-6 film for the company. But it wasn't long until he began covering British sporting events such as rugby, football and cricket.
real pros to show up. Then I'd nonchalantly slide in with them. Everyone was pretty cool about it and gave me room to shoot."
Powell moved to Los Angeles to help set up Allsport USA in 1985; being the expendable kid at the agency with shooting and darkroom skills worked to his advantage. The experience introduced Powell to an array of new American sports, allowing him to shoot at Super Bowls, World Series games and the NBA Championships for the next several years.
"I didn't like it at first, but I knew it was a good move for me," he says. "The Super Bowl got me rolling on American sports. I went to my first one in 1985 [the Bears vs. the Patriots] and ended up getting work published in the new NFL magazines back in the UK—plus, I had images published in several UK newspapers during the buildup to the game."
He also found himself traveling 300 days a year, arduous work, but an experience he loved. There weren't many skilled sports photographers on the road at the time, allowing Powell access to numerous events on a global scale.
"If you were good, you'd get sent to every event on the calendar," says Powell. "I would shoot all American sports, then go back to Europe and follow track and field or skiing events, plus I'd travel to cover the Olympic Games."
Page 1 of 4