Friday, June 15, 2007
Simon Bruty - Athletics
To be counted among the best sports photographers in the world takes more than being in the right place at the right time. Simon Bruty gets images that show the unusual within the usual.
As a society, we're addicted to sports—the Super Bowl, the World Series, NBA basketball, March Madness—the list goes on and on. These are among the biggest moneymakers in entertainment, and for many people, the only thing more inspiring than seeing the events on television is seeing the decisive moments distilled into single, clarifying still photographs. The pages of Sports Illustrated are filled with the finest images from every imaginable contest, and the staff shooters who are assigned to capture the action are the best of the best in the business.
Simon Bruty's career has brought him to the top of the pyramid in his field, and his field is photographing sports. Based in Washington D.C., Bruty is mainly a features shooter for SI. While many of the top shooters specialize in a select group of sports, Bruty is one of the rare pros whose specialty is not having a specialty. He has an exceptional talent for sizing up the action, positioning himself and catching the perfect shot, no matter what the sport.
Sports photography isn't easy. The number of truly successful shots are on the order of one in a hundred. Digital photography is ideally suited to sports, and it's no wonder that organizations like Sports Illustrated were among the first to make heavy investments in the technology. When you're hoping for a 1% success rate, the savings in film costs alone makes it worthwhile, but also consider that shooting film might have a success rate closer to 0.5%, and the attraction becomes clear. Why did film shooters have a lower rate of successful images? When you shot film, you couldn't review the images until they were back from the lab. Only then would you see whether you were positioned right, and then, of course, it was too late.
Bruty isn't troubled by the prospect of missing the shot, possibly because he never seems to miss it. In telling the story of a particularly challenging day at a soccer game, he describes how he simply wasn't getting the shot. Bruty had positioned himself in a location that just wasn't panning out. Photographing soccer games isn't easy, and Bruty wasn't really able to move around and look for a better spot, so he stuck with his location on the sidelines. Although discouraged, Bruty continued to shoot and his perseverance paid off in spades as the decisive action migrated to his location and he captured the defining image of the game.