Impact, aesthetics and hidden stories, the key factors in the Photography categories

  • January 20, 2019

Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam, AIPS Young Reporter, Nigeria

LAUSANNE, January 21, 2019 - At the Summer Olympics in 1968, when Bob Beamon of the USA leaped 29 feet, 2½ inches, 8.90m to win gold and set an Olympic record during the Men’s Long Jump event, sports photography also took a leap of faith into prominence and marketability, thanks to Tony Duffy’s iconic photo of that historic moment, which led to the emergence of the world’s first sports photography agency.

Fifty years down the line, digital revolution have inspired the layman’s interest in photography, with virtually everyone managing to capture at least a selfie. However, this has challenged talented professionals to distinguish themselves with a lot more creativity in a bid to remain relevant, and technological advancements are also playing a huge role.

The AIPS Sport Media Awards have brought to light some of the aesthetic ways of communicating sports stories through images, while also recognizing the hard work that goes into producing such captivating pictures.

“We are in a time when everybody is shooting pictures. That is nice, but on the professional side, we have to find different ways to increase more and more, the level of photography,” member of the jury Vincent Amalvy said.


There are two sub-categories for Photography in the AIPS Sport Media Awards (Portfolio and Sport Action) with three finalists each and five sports represented in the final; swimming, speed skating, rugby, biathlon and gymnastics.

The submissions of Adam Pretty, Patrick B. Kraemer and Xu Liu were adjudged the best three in Portfolio, while Alexey Filippov, Nobert Schmidt and Vincent Riemersma secured the podium places in Sport Action. The winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony to be held at the Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel on January 21.


Kraemer of Magicpbk, who covers mostly aquatic sports, acknowledged the difficulty in finding new angles for pictures every year but his portfolio of high-quality black and white images is proof that the advancement in technology has provided room for more variety in sports photography. It was Kraemer’s underwater camera that captured the underside of a swimmer who is surrounded by air bubbles immediately after diving into a pool. “So fascinating to see the air around his body,” he said.

Getty Images Pretty also explored the underwater beauty in his portfolio, showcasing the symmetry of synchronized swimming as well as the underwater reflections of swimming actions that unfold beyond the eyes of spectators. Then like two sides of a coin, he succeeded in capturing a building alongside swimmers performing underwater.

As someone who has been in the profession for over three decades, Vincent Amalvy, who is the Head of Special Operations and Photo Director for Asia/Pacific at AFP acknowledged the impact of technology in sports photography.

“When I was starting photography in ‘85, everything was manual, now we are playing with a lot of toys; drones, technology and so on. The pictures are more and more sophisticated, but on the other hand we are looking a lot at the content of journalism.”



It is one thing to own a drone and another to have the perfect opportunity to produce a unique shot. Vincent Riemersma had both, and Skating Shadows came to be. Riemersma had confessed that prior he had always had the National Geographic’s famous camel picture at the back of his mind and was looking forward to the moment he could replicate it in sports. The shadows are the notable figures in the picture while the real skaters serve as the colourful base to the neatly arranged body prints in the snow.

There is a high level of expertise needed to be able to use technologies to produce the desired result and even Alexey Filippov’s picture of Martin Fourcade from beneath the biathlete confirms that much.

Germany’s Nobert Schmidt, in his submission, projected the show of passion exhibited during a rugby league game in a terrible weather condition. In spite of being covered in mud both teams continued to play their hearts out. China’s Xu Liu highlighted the dedication that goes into the development of young gymnasts in China and he does this with so much precision.

It is also important to tell a story with the image as Amalvy explained further, “A lot of people can do a lot of pictures and can imagine that they are professionals but to be professional sometimes is a little bit different. It’s journalism, so you need to give information, and that’s what we found during these awards. We found some great stories with good level of technique.”


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