Striking triathlon photography
Written by: Timothy Carlson
Date: Fri Apr 27 2012
Strangely, despite the recognized excellence of top triathlon photographers such as David Epperson, Tracy Frankel, Delly Carr, Robert Oliver, Rich Cruse, Frank Wechsel, Nils Nilsen, and Paul Phillips - and there are many more excellent shooters - I can’t think of any books that feature the triathlon work of one photographer.
The reasons for that are several: Triathlon has a few classic moments - swim start, swim, transition, bike, run, finish -- that have been mined in zillions of pictures and even the best photographers are hard put to make them unique. Second, the men and women who attempt to make a living recording this sport often have to shoot all the major players for potential ads or are hired to capture as many participants as possible and thus set up for close-ups in a few strategic places. Triathlon, as a result, has attracted many generalists but few whose sole focus is art. There are some who strive for the sublime every time they bring a camera to the contest -- but none who have the absolute freedom to exclusively pursue a unique vision.
But the key reason for the rarity of single photographer books, I suspect, is that the triathlon photographer has to have the ability and the confidence to believe that a high percentage of his or her pictures can survive the test of time. As opposed to the epiphenomenal, attention-deficit charm of the website photo galleries, pictures in a book really must be worth looking at time after time and offer a reward for viewing well into the future.
TRI -- The Triathlon Photography of Michael Rauschendorfer, meets this test well. In it, Rauschendorfer offers many stunning shots from his favorite races such as Abu Dhabi, Lanzarote, Kona and home country German triathlons including Frankfurt, Roth, Regensburg and Wiesbaden. In this well-printed, 144-page, 8x12 inch book by German triathlon publisher Spomedis, Rauschendorfer offers some 40 images I can go back to repeatedly with a sense of freshness and delight. In many cases, he offers a merger of the sport and landscape that echoes the work of legendary cycling photographer Graham Watson.
Among the best shots:
While his technique may not be revolutionary, it is precise and well executed. Rauschendorfer is aggressive in entering the water, lying on the ground, and getting off the convenient spots to place the racers in the landscapes. He draws upon classic art as well as the greats of photography to frame his shots with power and grace. Unlike many modern tri photographers, he will shoot action in dark silhouette as well as use artfully placed strobes with discretion.
Still, he is occasionally overcome by the tendency to include ordinary shots that dilute the impact of his best work. A forgivable mistake in one of the first books to insist on the worth of one man's vision of the sport.
TRI -- The Triathlon Photography of Michael Rauschendorfer
Copyright © Spomedis GMBH, Hamburg 2012. 29.95 Euros.
Available via: triathlonbookstore.com
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