Updated: Jun 30, 2020
When I started playing tennis at the age of 15, I knew I had a love for the game. There was something so satisfying about feeling the ball hit the sweet spot of the racquet, and scoring a point on an opponent clearly better than me.
My love for tennis started in parallel to my love photography, but it wasn't until 22 years later that I would combine these two loves to create one of my most popular photographic series.
I first went to the US Open in 1998, and saw a young 16 year old Serena Williams compete in a qualifying match. As an adult, I began to attend the open on a yearly basis, making a t-shirt purchase, overpriced concessions, and photography an annual ritual.
My US Open series of photos started in 2018. As the sports photographers went to work with their large DSLRs, long telephoto lenses, and monopods, I began to get inspired.
I reached into my bag and pulled out the most basic kit money can buy. A compact micro four thirds camera with a kit lens, zoomed as far as the barrel would go.
It was an extremely hot day. Ninety five plus degrees with half the court (camera left) cast in a dark shadow, and the other in direct sunlight. The heat was extreme even for the pro athletes on the court.
The weather combined with the pressure of competing in a grand slam tournament began to inspire a photographic story.
I knew my focal length, vantage point, and hard lighting would showcase how challenging a match could be.
Cropping and perspective were key in creating the daunting feeling of the challenges the competitors faced during their match. I knew I wanted to create a monochrome series. Removing the color allowed me to focus on the action of the subjects. I didn't want to portray them as super human athletes that we see in sneaker ads and on magazine covers. I wanted to showcase their effort and how they individually take on an incredible challenge like a grand slam tournament.
I'll eventually expand this series to other tournaments, but for now Queens New York is where I'll draw my inspiration.