I love talking about the people I photograph. I’ve learned so much from them and I want to share it!
I have stories to tell (as well as confidences to keep). Athletes encounter the same health issues as the rest of the population as they age and they tend to be very generous in wanting to share their experiences with a broader public if they think it can be of any help to someone else. I’m often humbled by what they go through and the ways that they deal with illness and injury. They have encouraged me to believe I have a lot to share.
I can entertain your audience by showing them my photographs and telling them about elite older sportsmen and women’s achievements, their life stories and the international events they take part in. On one level, my talks are ‘easy listening’ and ‘easy watching’ as they are so highly illustrated. But I hope and believe that I also do more than entertain. I have a serious underlying message that’s also a good news message: the people I document show us what the human body is capable of as it ages. And it’s a lot more than we might otherwise think!
When I first started doing this work, I thought I’d be photographing older sportsmen and women doing lots of different sports. And to some extent this is true. I’ve covered swimming, hockey, skydiving, football, mountain running, indoor rowing, squash at the elite end of the spectrum, as well as a host of different exercise classes and ‘walking sports’ at the local community level. But I keep coming back to the sport I started with masters track and field athletics. I’ve been photographing national and international athletics events now for 8 years and to some extent I’ve become part of the scenery myself. I know many of the athletes and I’m a familiar face on the circuit. I’ve made friendships amongst the competitors: let’s not forget I’m right there in the middle of the age groups that I photograph. This has been a precious and unexpected development for me and one that I treasure and certainly don’t take lightly. As a photographer, I believe it’s changed the kinds of photos that I can take. There’s a trust between us as I get to know these extraordinary people better, and as I learn about their lives. It’s a two-way process of course; as I say, we’re talking photography but we’re also talking about mutual respect and friendship here.