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Monthly Masters DiscussionMonthly Masters' Discussion -May 2021 - Leifer's Photo of Ali vs Liston - Sports Photography

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Monthly Masters' Discussion -May 2021 - Leifer's Photo of Ali vs Liston - Sports Photography

Post by minniev »

Now that sports are beginning to open up after a year’s lockdown, we will this month look at sports photography and consider an iconic image that is on the top of every “best ever” list of sports photography: Neil Leifer’s shot of Muhammad Ali’s victory over Sonny Liston.

Sports and action photography seems to depend on a complex mix of determination, luck, skill, and equipment. This image is no different. Leifer describes his most famous photograph like this. “Part of being a successful photographer is being lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time like I was, but a more important part is not missing when you’re in that spot. I got very lucky at the Ali-Liston fight, but what I’m proudest of is that I didn’t miss.”

Take a good look at the image, and whether or not you have ever shot sports photos, share your reaction to it. Here’s some questions to help you formulate a response. Answer any you wish, or simply share your opinion.

Questions for further thought:

1. What do you think about the composition? The angle? The “arrangement” of subjects? The expression captured on the subjects’ faces? The framing?
2. I’ve posted the color and monochrome versions. In every instance I found the monochrome more tightly cropped. Why do you think that may be? Which do you find to be more effective? Why? How do you decide whether to present an image in color or monochrome with your own work?
3. Can sports photography be judged by the same criteria as other genres of photography? Why or why not?
4. This image was not a highly regarded image when it was first published. Only several years later did it come to be regarded as the most iconic sports photograph of all time. Why do you think it became more well regarded over time?
5. The concept of “decisive moment” is something we’ve discussed here and all over this and other forum spaces. Does this concept have more meaning for sports photography than other genres? Does this image illustrate the concept?
6. If you have shot sports photos, for pay or for fun, whether at professional sports, your local high school, or your grandchild’s soccer field, please share one of your favorite images and tell us about it.

Links for Further Study ... e-century/ ... -vs-liston ... excellent/ ... db12514d57
** There are two really good resources linked via the fair use statement under the photos
fair use:
fair use:
fair use:
fair use:
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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