Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Mike Powell: Grace, Beauty…Action!
Mike Powell’s sports photography goes far beyond the usual moment in time
"The book deal allows me to really look around and run different, unexpected images by my editor at large," says Powell. "Having someone you respect give you feedback on the work pushes you a degree or two in a different direction; that's when you go down an avenue you never even thought of image-wise."
Lewis Blackwell at PQ Blackwell is the editor of both books. He approached Powell for the project after working with him at his previous haunt, Getty Images.
"I always enjoyed meeting him in various places, loved his images, but we never worked together directly," says Blackwell. "Mike has experienced and achieved a lot, but clearly has the enthusiasm, energy and talent to grow much further. With his can-do attitude, I'm sure it's going to be both productive and a highly enjoyable experience. I'm very excited by the potential of the books."
Shooting action in the studio is great because you get to boil the entire process down to its minimal form: motion, light and moment. You can’t hide behind a great location or the emotion of the event. I like the simplicity of that.Powell realizes the book deal is a great opportunity, but as fun as it sounds, he knows hard work and perseverance will win the day. "Getting offered this was great, but you don't gloat at how much fun it will be," says Powell. "You immediately start to panic and worry about how to make it all happen, make it all as good as you can. You worry about delivering the goods."
The challenge of shooting for a coffee-table book differs from Powell's editorial work in a refreshing way. His Grand Slam tennis book is all about seeing different textures, getting a sense of each tournament.
"It's not just getting forehands and backhands, but images celebrating each event," he explains. "You have to approach it with a different eye. One day at the Australian Open, it started raining heavily, and the first raindrops made a beautiful texture on the court surface. It was a perfect shot for the book, but that kind of artistic shot would never make it into a regular magazine or newspaper assignment."
A digital user on editorial assignments since 2000 (and, more recently, on medium format since Phase One released its 4x5 backs), Powell shot the Australian Open tennis tournament on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EOS-1D Mark IV, averaging over 2,000 images per day.
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