Monday, July 12, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010: Sport Photography and the Photographer's Gaze

A big part of the enjoyment of the FIFA World Cup 2010, for me, has been the excellent photography of the matches. The best photographers have been able to capture moments which are extremely telling about the athleticism, the tactics, and the emotions of the players. They freeze the action in a way that adds a dimension to the appreciation of the game and the drama which goes with it, both for players and for fans. They allow one to not only "be there", but admire simultaneously the subject matter, the art of the photographer, and the spirit of the competition.  Some of the photos I found particularly striking are below. Along with some by Annie Leibovitz before the World Cup started which I think raise some questions about the boundaries of "sport photography" as well as being remarkable photos in their own right.

Italy's defender Fabio Cannavaro (right) consoles striker Fabio Quagliarella in the Group F first round 2010 World Cup football match between Italy and Slovakia on June 24, 2010 at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg. Slovakia won 3-2 to knock Italy out of the tournament. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Slovakia's Jan Durica celebrates after teammate Robert Vittek scored a second goal during their Group F soccer match against Italy at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg June 24, 2010. (REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Argentina's defender Nicolas Burdisso celebrates with Argentina's coach Diego Maradona after they won the Group B first round match against Greece on June 22, 2010 at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

An estimated 50,000 supporters of Germany watch the World Cup soccer match between Germany and Ghana at a public viewing area in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A fan blows a vuvuzela ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Brazil and Ivory Coast at Soccer City Stadium on June 20, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

South African fans celebrate in Johannesburg after their team scores during the Group A, first round match of France vs. South Africa on June 22, 2010. (MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)

In this Sunday June 20, 2010 file photo, South African worshipers hold their vuvuzelas after attending a religious service at Pretoria's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in South Africa. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A fan waits for the start of a World Cup Group E soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

Brazilian soccer fans pray in front of a image of former South African President Nelson Mandela before a public screening of the FIFA World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Ivory Coast on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 20, 2010. (REUTERS/Bruno Domingos)

France's midfielder Florent Malouda waves to supporters at the end of the Group A first round 2010 World Cup football match France vs. South Africa on June 22, 2010 at Free State Stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein. South Africa won 2-1. (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

The full series of photos is here; the one some of you are looking  for is here; the phone you find so fascinating is here; you may google Larissa Riquelme on your own; probably best not to do so in front of the women folk, particularly the other half, and the Desi Aunties, lest you find your conjugal status has been changed for you :). I would include the photo here but, well, awrah, and all. Which leads me to my next series of photos, and thoughts.

Annie Leibovitz photographed football/soccer stars for a pre-World Cup feature in Vanity Fair, Playing for the World, which includes both the linked article and a separate photo portfolio, World Cup Soccer Stars, as well as a "behind the scenes" video, Soccer’s Hottest Stars Flaunt Their Colors—and Little Else—for Annie Leibovitz. Although they are wearing little else, they are wearing more than other iconic Annie Leibovitz subjects like Demi Moore (ring and earrings), John Lennon (Yoko Ono), and, in the field of sports photography, Lance Armstrong (rain drops).

The tone of the football/soccer stars' photographs, the article and the video are all, understandably, in the style of Vanity Fair. They are more fashion/celebrity  photography than sports photography, it seems to me. They also are an interesting reflection of a potential double standard in photographing male and female athletes, as photography of women athletes often emphasizes their bodies, even scantily clad or focusing on a specific body part, but the equivalent, of having them in bra and panties, would probably raise some criticism about objectification, and diminishing their athleticism, and achievements. Somehow, these photos by Annie Leibovitz haven't--whether because of the male subjects, the lesbian photographer, or the publication venue. Should they?

AGE: 25. CLUB: Inter Milan. POSITION: Midfielder.
AGE: 28. CLUB: Los Angeles Galaxy. POSITIONS: Attacking midfielder, striker, winger.
AGE: 28. CLUB: Real Madrid. POSITION: Attacking midfielder.
SAMUEL ETO’O, Cameroon 
AGE: 29. CLUB: Inter Milan. POSITION: Striker.
AGE: 20. CLUB: A.C. Milan. POSITIONS: Striker, winger.

AGE: 32. CLUB: Juventus (Turin). POSITION: Goalkeeper. SALARY: $7.5 million. ENDORSEMENTS:Pepsi, Puma, Fiat. DISTINCTIVE STYLE: Brick-wall solidity born of natural athleticism and formidable bravery; marshals his defenders with a commanding presence that may or may not owe something to his reputed right-wing political beliefs. YOU BETCHA: In 2006, the same year Buffon anchored Italy’s World Cup—winning team, he was one of several topflight Italian players accused of gambling on football games. He ultimately cleared his name, after pointing out that he placed bets—of up to 500,000 euros at a time—only on horse racing, and that he ceased the practice in 2005 when it was officially outlawed by football authorities.
Photographed in Milan.

AGE: 31. CLUB: Inter Milan. POSITION: Midfielder.
AGE: 26. CLUB: West Ham United. POSITION: Striker.
AGE: 32. CLUB: Chelsea. POSITION: Striker.
AGE: 33. CLUB: Chelsea. POSITION: Midfielder.

KAKÁ, Brazil
AGE: 28. CLUB: Real Madrid. POSITION: Attacking midfielder. SALARY: $14 million.ENDORSEMENTS: Armani Jeans, Sony, Adidas, Pepsi. DISTINCTIVE STYLE: Elegance, power, control, vision—a range of attributes that are very rarely found within a single player. The only thing Kaká lacks is the street-fighter mentality long regarded as a prerequisite for football superstars throughout South America. AND YOU THOUGHT BECKHAM WAS A U.S. MARKETER’S DREAM: When Kaká celebrates a goal, he reveals a God-centric slogan on his undershirt. One of the world’s highest-earning footballers, he is a member of Brazil’s evangelical Rebirth in Christ church, to which he has tithed his earnings.
Photographed in Madrid.

AGE: 32. CLUB:Chelsea. POSITION:Striker. SALARY: $7.5 million.ENDORSEMENTS: Pepsi, Samsung, Nike.DISTINCTIVE STYLE:Ask Nemanja Vidic, the rugged Serb Manchester United defender who lost a tooth, suffered a near broken jaw, and required stitches after trying to shackle Drogba during a recent showdown. The London-based goal machine is the living embodiment of the ancient football accolade “vicious but fair” as he lays waste to the best defenses in the world. WE ARE THE WORLD: Drogba became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program in 2007, and in 2009 he donated a commercial-endorsement fee of $4.5 million toward the building of a new hospital in his native Ivory Coast. It is not known if the facilities will be made available to any opponents who might be injured by Drogba.
Photographed in Milan.

Other, more obviously, sports photos which link to their captions and credits, from Time's Pictures from the World Cup:

What part does photography play in your enjoyment of sports?
If you take photographs, what challenges are there in capturing sports action?
What do you think of Annie Leibovitz' sports shoot?
Does it matter if the "objectifying gaze" of the male athletes is one of a lesbian photographer? What about the readers--heterosexual women, heterosexual men, homosexual men?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

Para o Brasil!

Related posts:
FIFA World Cup 2010: On the Eve of the Final
FIFA World Cup 2010: The Final


Anonymous said...

Great pictures, Chiara! I think SA did an absolutely wonderful job hosting the World Cup. It was too bad that more African countries were not in the finals but still and all it was a good run. I'm happy to learn that 'Paul' will retire from predicting and that his handlers have refused offers from betting agents, etc. :)

Susanne said...

Great post! I loved seeing these awesome photos. They truly captured some wonderful moments from the World Cup. Thanks much for sharing all these!

Chiara said...

Anonymous--Welcome! and thank you for your kind comment. I hope you enjoy other posts and comment there as well. I agree, that the World Cup was well-run and cast SA in a favourable light. Also, very noble of Paul's owners to retire him gracefully after a 100% run in the World Cup!

Susanne--Thank you for your comment I am glad you enjoyed the photos!


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