Of photographs that capture some of the best moments of London Olympics 2012
For those who missed the London Olympics or wished they had gotten a closer look, here’s a golden opportunity. S. Sukumar, one of South India’s most eminent photographers, has exhibited a selection of his best photographs from the London Olympics 2012. In a career spanning 35 years, Sukumar has photographed almost everything — from models to weddings and landscapes, and sport is a particular passion for him. One of the reasons Sukumar enjoys sports photography is the challenge that the momentum of sports inherently provides the photographer — that of picking and highlighting one instance from a series of intricately linked sequences. As spectators, our focus is on the game and its outcome. As a photographer, Sukumar’s focus is on specific individuals, their behaviour and emotions. The power of the camera lies in privileging such instances, and Sukumar often uses this power to bring to our notice people and performers who are not the centrepiece of the game. His photographs of uneven bars capture both athletes and their coaches, the coaches anxiously looking up and alertly waiting below.
Being primarily interested in drama and the human element, he is impartial to moments of conventional import — as is evident from a photograph of badminton champion Li Xuerui jubilantly tossing away her racket after she wins. Sukumar is not interested in the moment of victory; he is keener on the response to that victory. He seems especially fascinated by the theatricality of emotion. Some of his favourite photographs are the ones that lock absolute contrasts within a single frame — even as Marianne Vos raises her arms ecstatically after winning the gold in cycling, silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead hangs her head in dejection. Similarly, a photograph from the football final between Mexico and Brazil simultaneously shows strength and fear, poise and precariousness. As Thiago Silva strikes the ball, Marco Fabian instinctively recoils from its path with a look anticipating the possible impact.
Sports photography is most needed in events that are too rapid or fluid to follow with the naked eye. The real beauty and awe-inspiring perfection of performances in synchronised events become apparent only through the lens of the photographer. Individual routines in Rhythmic Gymnastics last between one-minute-and-15-seconds and one-minute-and-30-seconds while group routines last between two-minutes-and-15-seconds and two-minutes-and-30-seconds. To process something this brief is difficult. However, through a shutter, a sequence of smooth imperceptible transitions can be broken down manageably. Sukumar reveals the success of the event in all its glory by putting the participants under the scrutiny of his lens and showing that even frozen, they hold up.
(The exhibition is on till December 29 at Art Houz, No. 41, Kasturi Ranga Road, Alwarpet from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)