Tuesday, 7 February 2012

'…And lose, and start again at your beginnings'

I just got an email from a fencer asking for a copy of a photo I took of him at the UK School Games. Browsing through, I noticed some shots of defeat I'm quite pleased with. Fencers look identical on the piste - white clothes, mask obscuring the face - so it's hard to add character to photographs of the sport.

One of the ways I try to do it is to snap them in the seconds after victory or defeat. The female fencers dramatise defeat more obviously - the males are more demonstrative in victory, and victories are a bit less interesting and varied than losses. Here are a few 'defeat' photos - maybe I'll do some victory ones tomorrow when I've a little more time. I see I've chosen monochrome for most of them - as though loss is better expressed in serious black and white. In the final shot, I've gone for a heavy vignette to emphasise the isolation of the defeated - down the other end, her vanquisher is surrounded by cheering team-mates. Click on them all to enlarge.

I'm also keener to shoot defeat because it's something I'm used to. I win most of the time at my club, but when I lose, it's to someone who I know should beat me every time. I don't shout, scream, collapse, hurl my mask across the room - perhaps I should: I lack the fighting spirit to take every point as though my life depended on it. I lose equably and win humbly. When I went to competitions, I knew that I'd rarely get to the finals and even more rarely win (it did happen occasionally): I learned to lose gracefully early on.

I went for the wide angle to get a sense of the different fates: Craig on the right goes on to another round. Dickson gets an early shower.

The ones above are from the UK School Games - the following are from the European Championships

Cassara (left) loses the European Men's Foil Final to Avalo

Many more dramatic action shots here

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