The Polo Photographer

By: Gustav Hoiland

Jul 23 2010

Category: bike polo, portrait


Focal Length:70mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D80

Shooting Shooters Shooting

Doug from the NYC polo scene has been shooting the game longer than anyone I’ve come across. He’s sitting on the most comprehensive archive of hardcourt bike polo history in existence – collections of entire rosters of tournament players, an ongoing documentation of the bikes people are riding, as well as an untold (and relatively unrevealed) pile of other polo work. I’m excited to see what comes of it five or ten years down the road when polo grows up, or at least matures into its rowdy teenage years.

What I find most interesting about this image is the motivation behind it on my side. I shot this first and foremost to give as a gift to a fellow friend in polo. I’ve found great pleasure recently in giving people solid photos of themselves. I’ll go so far as to have them stop what they’re doing, or at least pause for a second, so that I can make a quick exposure of them. Sure I like to have photos of my friends, but it’s really about them. En route to dinner the other day with some friends I whipped off my backpack mid stride and said hold it! I need to shoot ya’ll right here right now because this light is great and it won’t last. They obliged. Solid photo was created. The walk then continued.

The secondary motivation, at least when I’m shooting polo events, is that the image might fit into a collection centered around that event. For the ESPI5 tournament a couple weeks back I ended up with a collection of maybe 30 images out of the perhaps 1000 that I shot. 70% of that 1000 is trash. 20% ends up being purely documentation of the event (i.e. the photos aren’t great photos, but they help me remember the great time), and the final 10% are good photos, plain and simple. Maybe 1% really stand out, but when putting together a collection where sequencing and pairing and other elements of presentation are critical, I need a pool to pick from, even if that means leaving out the trophies.

Enough already!

2 comments on “The Polo Photographer”

  1. I like how the sky looks in this picture. It reminds me of the sky from “White Paint Blue Sky,” except a bit more pale. The diagonal lines of the wooden structure that he’s sitting on are genius. I also like the pink sunglasses, yellow shoestrings, and what really stands out for me is the awesome looking black and white striped lens.

  2. Thanks Gus, you’re doing great work.

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