Both the emotional thrills of victory and agonies of defeat were experienced minus the cheers and moans of the crowd for many athletes this past year as COVID-19 made spectators sparse, cardboard cutouts replacing screaming fans. But there were those who bore witness to the drive and determination of Gamecock competitors, and some of them came bearing cameras.
The editorial team at CMM has chosen these images as the winners for the 2021 USC student photo contest.
Seniors in my portfolio class of the visual communications major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications focused on Gamecock sports for the Columbia Metropolitan Magazine photo contest, sponsored by the Talmadge Moore LeGrand Photojournalism Endowed Scholarship Fund, capturing moments of physical grace and earnest striving that might have otherwise gone unseen in the whirl of the competition.
The world of sports is a perfect setting for capturing dramatic images, yet this genre of photography can be among the most demanding. The light is hard to control, subjects rarely hold still, and they definitely aren’t interested in posing for the camera; their minds and bodies are laser focused on other things.
And so the photographer has to make a calculated decision to freeze movement in a crisp image or to blur it, to isolate athletes from their background or frame them in the arena, to show a peak point of action or the quiet moment where competitors compose themselves before stepping on the field or diving in the pool.
And even for the seasoned pros, there’s still the need for a little luck to be in the right place at the right time at the right angle with the right light to capture the decisive moment.