He shoots; he scores! Getty Images photographer Adam Pretty took out second place in the sports stories category of the 2012 World Press Photo competition, now on display at the State Library of NSW. Dave Cheng spoke to Pretty about photography that works up a sweat
First published on 4 Jun 2012. Updated on 6 Jun 2012.
Adam, tell us how you first got into photography.
I got into photography in primary school, actually. They had a little dark room and a pinhole camera and I quite enjoyed it, but I was more into illustration and drawing. When I was 15 I saw an exhibition of sports photographers Craig Golding and Tim Clayton. I was blown away and thought: this is what I want to do.
What interests you about sports photography in particular?
Sport is so dynamic and full of fleeting moments, making it a really stimulating subject to photograph. On the surface it is all about entertainment – but people become so involved that it reveals a full range of emotions to be captured as well.
How would your describe your own personal approach to taking sports pictures?
I always strive to capture a unique, interesting picture – something that hasn’t been seen before. I will seek out a different or unusual angle that other sports photographers, who are capturing an event purely from a news angle, would not necessarily go for. Ultimately, I aim to capture the important moments and, at the same time, shoot them from a slightly different viewpoint. Hopefully that image will surprise or challenge the viewer. You have to push yourself to get something really special. You need to stay and work a picture until you get it.
What’s been your toughest assignment so far?
My first Olympics, in Sydney, was the most challenging thing I’ve done. I was physically and probably emotionally worn out. I crashed and burned for two weeks and recovered just in time for the Paralympics. It was the most difficult experience but also the most rewarding.
In 2007 you made the decision to move from sports photography into advertising. Why was that?
I was getting a little [too] confident and losing passion [for the job] – I didn’t want to be 50 and [sports photography] would be all I had done. It was a total turnaround going into advertising.
Do you have any tips for budding photographers out there?
Show your work to others. Get your friends’ opinions and get your work out there. Try to push yourself to do something that is different and develop your own style.
See Adam Pretty’s award-winning image and the best in international photojournalism at the World Press Photo 2012 exhibition at the State Library of NSW from June 30 until July 22.