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in defence of rowing tragics

02 May

Softly, as in a morning sunrise

Who could do other than love a sport rife with such shimmeringly splendid photographic opportunities? This is a photo taken by Dr B and anyone who knows Boy will recognise his outline, the shape of his head and the way he sits a scull. Anyone who doesn’t know Boy is still in with a chance because, after all, it’s not so heavily backlit that all detail is obscured. At regattas, the morning light is both ally and opponent, but sometimes you can get it just right and you know why you’ve gone from hating early mornings to a state of accepting that life is full of them, they’re often cold and it doesn’t matter.

It’s not that I never take arty photos but that I rarely do so because my photographic brief for most of the past five years has been to take clear, recognisable photos of clearly recognisable kids engaged in clearly recognisable activities: rowing, sleeping, eating, serving food, cheering, horsing about; all the usual things that kids do at a day-long event where there are long stretches of just, well, hanging about. There’s a place for arty photos, but they have to be thought about more than I can manage when I’m trying to capture the thrill of a close finish or an unexpected capsize. Those are perhaps not situations demanding arty treatment. The picture tells the story without artifice.

The early morning fogs and the golden sunrises have their own beauty and capturing the moment where oars dip into the molten gold of the mighty river has its own magic. Most of those are Dr B’s efforts because he’s been out in a following boat while I’ve been in the kitchen cooking. It’s not possible to be in both places at once. Rowers, as I’ve noted before, have prodigious appetites. The photos allow us to share some of the magic.

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