When I'm photographing a climber working on a particular problem, maybe one that is bugging them, I find myself truly invested in seeing that they hit the top. Its like working out the problem together. Chatting in between drops, comparing flappers, encouragement and shooting all the while. If I have my climbing shoes on and am able to join in, I always will. Doing this helps my understanding of where the trickiest part of the problem are and, at the end, I know the best place to shoot the climber's expression and achievement. It feels like shooting long distance running, where photos at mile 18 of 26 or at the finish line tell the bigger story than the first easy strides.
The geniuses that set the problems at the The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool make shooting as melodic as the climber's movements. Getting on board with their flow gives another level to the photo. Pressing the shutter whilst the climber is at stronger, easier holds in the problem gives less movement and in result are calm, still-life-esque shots. I look for monochromatic colors, like blues and greys in a low key tone to slow the viewer down, giving them the opportunity to learn about the climber or their current emotion.
On the other side of this is shooting dynos. I find myself looking for the point where the climber is in complete hang time or when their fingers have just found their safe hold after the jump. The look of only the finger tips holding the climber's weight horizontal and high in a split second of stillness is often missed in video or live. This type of capture gifts us the ability to add questioning to our storytelling. Did the climber make the climb? Did it feel like flying? Would we be able to hold our weight? What does the texture of the hold feel like? How much does making that climb mean to that person?
The power of photography in climbing is really endless and I am such a tiny part of it. I believe the start of photo should provoke the viewer to look into the picture for a little more than a couple of seconds, or a double click and scroll on. I try and find the human emotion within the frame and relate it to my own being. A good photo could well find you and the captured pixels on the screen becoming momentarily one, subconsciously feeling the climber's tension and emotion within the stillness of the frame, mentally moving along with the athletic display, possibly imagining the sounds around, the effort and pride.
Sports and lifestyle photographer, long distance runner. Cycling, climbing and the odd ale.