Hillary Allen, the voice of resilience

Touch death and the desire to run again. The endurance runner who defeated destiny with words and willpower

The sky can become a chasm in a few steps, in a few seconds. The clouds, barely touched, can become crevasse, fear, pain, darkness. It’s right there, in the dark mountainous bowels of the Trømso Hamperokken Sky Race, where everything can become a tragedy, where a life can change by changing that of others as well.

Hillary Allen is an international endurance runner and North Face athlete. In 2017 she was at the top of the prestigious Sky Running World Series, then, on the sharp Scandinavian heights, she slipped off a steep rocky ridge, miraculously remaining alive after falling over 150 feet.

Less than a year later, after numerous operations and intense rehabilitation, she tied her running shoes again and came back to skim the sky at maximum speed. The story of this Colorado athlete is a story of courage and resilience: a tale that she has decided to tell in a book, ‘Out and Back’, finding in writing a means to help herself and others.

“Writing is a safe place for me. I have a master’s degree in Neuroscience and through my studies I have discovered the power of this action. During the long recovery I wanted to be honest with myself, with the process I was going through: writing was cathartic, it became therapeutic. The apex of this process was when I came back to Trømso for racing again: that’s why I dedicated the last chapter of the book to that experience”

Survival, the power of self-confidence and passion, the ability to bend adverse opinions and conditions. ‘Out and Back’ page after page transcends autobiography, becoming an intimate metaphor of human strength, of the battle against limits and fears, of the acceptance of them.

“I think my favorite chapter is ‘The Power of Belief’. Given my critical condition, sometimes I thought it was useless to tell myself that every day should be a better day. But this mantra has accompanied me for a year, it has accompanied every little detail of my daily life. I believe that the ability to believe in yourself is there, inside you, even if you can’t see it: it’s hidden, like the roots of a tree, but it’s what gives strength to that tree to grow. I’ve never completely lost this component, I just had to find it again. I’ve faced dark times, I’ve worn the cast for three months, I’ve lived through pain, but that spark of ‘belief’ was finally ignited when I reurned to running for the first time: thirty, simple, seconds were enough. A few months later I won the Lavaredo Ultrarail and it was incredible”

Hillary’s relationship with running and with that natural context is also incredible: an element, the natural one, that has never ceased to be the cornerstone of her life. A deep love, generated already in her childhood, thanks to excursions in Colorado and campsites around the USA.

“On the trails I practically learned to walk. I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and my parents introduced me to the natural beauty of the United States from an early age. I’ve always loved running out there. I live my sport as a form of communion with nature: in those landscapes I feel insignificant and, at the same time, I am connected with myself, with the world and the people around me. When I have to train I don’t think about fatigue, I think about spending a day in the mountains admiring and respecting Mother Nature”

A respect that in Hillary’s words extends itself to human nature, to the intimate existence of men and women who, distant from each other, are united by the desire and strength to overcome challenges and adversities.

“I think we, as humans, are the most resilient species. We just have to discover it and use our challenges to improve, to grow. On this path I’ve discovered a lot of myself, I’ve opened myself to vulnerability, I’ve found unknown strengths and attitudes. I don’t really like talking about a ‘comeback’: the reality is that a completely different woman emerged from this personal ascent”

A woman who today, in addition to competing at the highest levels of endurance run, combines her sporting activity with university teaching, the role of coach and a notable activity as a blogger.

Between social posts and personal works, Hillary has built around her a positive community, interested in personal growth, as well as sports.

“In my blog I deal with topics such as athletic and mental preparation, physical and emotional recovery and ‘positive self talk’. My story doesn’t have to be a story of physical recovery, I want it to be a testament to human resilience. For me it’s about people first, in all walks of life, from teaching to coaching. The messages, letters and closeness I received from people all over the world were the driving force that inspired me to be a voice”

A voice stronger than the tragedy. A voice that deserves to be heard.

Credits

Hillary Allen
IG @hillygoat_climbs
hillaryallen.com

PH
Luke Webster
Blair Speed Creative
Jose Miguel Muñoz

Text Gianmarco Pacione

Thanks to bluestarpress.com


Lucien Laurent, il primo gol Mondiale

Un operaio della Peugeot gonfiò la prima rete Mondiale. Dopo averlo fatto fu prigioniero di guerra e aprì una birreria

“Stavamo affrontando il Messico e nevicava, dato che nell’emisfero meridionale era inverno. Uno dei miei compagni crossò il pallone e io ne seguii con attenzione il movimento, colpendolo al volo di destro. Fummo tutti contenti, ma non esultammo, nessuno comprese che eravamo passati alla storia. Una veloce stretta di mano e proseguimmo l’incontro. Non ci fu neanche dato un compenso: all’epoca eravamo dilettanti a tutti gli effetti”

Esattamente quindici anni fa ci lasciava Lucien Laurent. Nato a Saint-Maur-des-Fossés nel 1907, era in pensione dal 1972, anno in cui lasciò la storica birreria che aveva preso in gestione nel dopoguerra.

Lucient Laurent, però, non era un pensionato qualunque, in lui si celava una figura storica, pioneristica per l’intero panorama calcistico: quel signore dell’Île-de-France era l’uomo che per primo riuscì a gonfiare la rete in una Coppa del Mondo.

Lo fece il 13 luglio 1930, all’Estadio Pocitos di Montevideo; lo fece nella prima storica edizione del grande ballo delle stelle internazionali del football, manifestazione intensamente voluta da Jules Rimet.

A Montevideo quel pomeriggio di luglio faceva freddo, un freddo pungente, l’attesa era spasmodica e alle ore 15.00 si diede inizio, contemporaneamente, a Francia-Messico e Stati Uniti-Belgio. Erano altri tempi, erano altre divise da gioco, era un altro calcio.

Al minuto 19 arrivò dal nulla un gesto tecnico apparentemente banale, un destro al volo che consegnò il vantaggio ai francesi. Ad esultare, più che altro, furono le migliaia di affascinati uruguaiani assiepati attorno al campo.

Laurent non si rese conto dello storico momento. Atteggiamento comprensibile per un uomo che, all’epoca, giocava come semiprofessionista nella massima serie francese.

Si era preso un permesso lavorativo di due mesi, Laurent, per essere presente a quell’esordio Mondiale. L’aveva chiesto alla sua azienda, la Peugeot.

Era passato al Sochaux proprio per questo, per ottenere un impiego connesso al calcio. I ‘Les Lionceaux’, difatti, erano stati fondati appena due anni prima da Jean-Pierre Peugeot stesso.

Insieme ai connazionali intraprese un viaggio epico su un piroscafo italiano, il Conte Verde: mezzo acquatico che salpò da Genova, ospitando le comitive rumena, francese e belga insieme ad altri normali passeggeri, a Jules Rimet e alla coppa stessa.

“Trascorremmo 15 giorni nel Conte Verde per raggiungere il Sud America. Gli esercizi di base li facevamo di sotto e ci allenavamo sulla coperta della nave. Il nostro allenatore non ci parlò mai di tattica…”, spiegò a distanza di anni Laurent stesso.

Laurent non si rese conto dello storico momento. Atteggiamento comprensibile per un uomo che, all’epoca, giocava come semiprofessionista nella massima serie francese.

Si era preso un permesso lavorativo di due mesi, Laurent, per essere presente a quell’esordio Mondiale. L’aveva chiesto alla sua azienda, la Peugeot.

Era passato al Sochaux proprio per questo, per ottenere un impiego connesso al calcio. I ‘Les Lionceaux’, difatti, erano stati fondati appena due anni prima da Jean-Pierre Peugeot stesso.

Insieme ai connazionali intraprese un viaggio epico su un piroscafo italiano, il Conte Verde: mezzo acquatico che salpò da Genova, ospitando le comitive rumena, francese e belga insieme ad altri normali passeggeri, a Jules Rimet e alla coppa stessa.

“Trascorremmo 15 giorni nel Conte Verde per raggiungere il Sud America. Gli esercizi di base li facevamo di sotto e ci allenavamo sulla coperta della nave. Il nostro allenatore non ci parlò mai di tattica…”, spiegò a distanza di anni Laurent stesso.

Dopo il 4-1 ai danni del ‘Tricolor’, i francesi poterono riposarsi per meno di 48 ore, trovandosi di fronte alla quotata argentina. Al termine di una partita controversa, i transalpini capitolarono, compromettendo il proseguo della competizione.

Jules Rimet, dopo oltre due settimane di partite, consegnò la Coppa ai padroni di casa, dando il via a una giornata di festa nazionale.

Lucien Laurent tornò in Francia al suo Sochaux, alla sua Peugeot.

Per lungo tempo non ebbe la piena consapevolezza del valore inestimabile del proprio gol: sigillo eterno e irreplicabile.

Il calcio per il centrocampista che, negli anni, si spostò anche a Parigi e Rennes, venne presto accantonato davanti al dramma bellico.

Laurent durante la II Guerra Mondiale visse, come ospite forzato dei tedeschi, quasi 3 anni e mezzo di prigionia in Sassonia.

Una volta liberato, tornò brevemente al calcio giocato, precisamente al Racing Besançon, dove occupò anche il ruolo di allenatore fino al 1950.

Lasciati i prati verdi si dedicò pienamente alla propria birreria. Solo l’inesorabile scorrere degli anni fece comprendere all’ex operaio della Peugeot la grandezza e il valore simbolico di quel destro al volo. Un istante di calcio inevitabilmente destinato a durare per sempre.

Redazione


野球, baseball in Osaka

In Japan, baseball diamonds are a pleasant obsession

Baseball came to Japan like a breath of wind, like a whispered word. A word first spoken by an American migrant, the educator Horace Wilson, and quickly transformed into 野球.

Baseball bats and diamonds invaded the prefectures of the Rising Sun from 1872, taking root in the national school system and creating what, today, turns out to be the most popular sport in the whole nation.

This pleasant sporting obsession takes shape in the pictures of Sam Benard. An obsession that, portrait after portrait, wears orange: the color of the uniforms of a youth team from the city of Osaka. Here, in Japan’s third metropolitan area, a dusty field is peered by rationalist architecture. Here, in the traditional commercial capital of the country, the whirling and organized daily confusion finds an oasis of peace between bases and home runs.

Credits

 

Sam Bénard

IG @sambenard
sambenard.com

April 29, 2021


Omar Martinello, sharing nature through effort

From the Po Valley to the mountains and the great paths. With Omero, fatigue is a means to reach ecstasy

The silence of a bivouac abandoned to the blowing of the wind, the uncertain ground on which feet, wheels, reflections rest. It is the atavistic search for sensory abandonment, communion with nature, symbiosis with the wild element.

It is the intimate discovery. Beyond rhetoric, beyond the trivialization of it.

“In some places you can meditate and find yourself”, says Omar Martinello. He has long hair and the typical smile of a rebellion crystallized over time, innocent and sincere, never dormant.

“In the mountains you can savor nature and its simple forms. You can find in the spontaneity of small gestures, like lighting a fire, the way to forge social bonds, human connections”

Omero, this is his nickname, has decided to visually narrate his travels, his meditations. He did it by escaping the flat Po Valley and the working routine of a provincial pastry shop.

“I wanted to take a sabbatical year after a long period of work. I created a YouTube channel dedicated to the mountains and started producing low cost travel videos. Bivouacs, landscapes, trails, rough roads on two wheels… I wanted to show that you can have lots of adventures even from home, from my Caselle di Selvazzano, for example”

The camera in hand, the drone that cuts through the clouds. A bike and shoes that touch secret lands, underrated lands. Those portrayed by Omar Martinello are heritages to be transmitted, riches rarely revealed.

They are the Sibillini Mountains, the Tetric cliffs sung by Virgil, they are the Luca Vuerich bivouac, a refuge in the heart of the rugged Julian Alps, the Groppa Pastour, a reddened metal point in the Belluno Prealps.

These are timeless places out of time, as modest as they are of inestimable value. Goods of easy access, which Omero has taken on the task of narrating through shrewd and pressing montages, returning both practical and intimate confidences to a community that has amplified over the years.

“I look for peaks and mountains that are normally of interest to a few, I look for remote or unknown places. It makes me feel good to be able to convey what I feel during these adventures. Usually I have no set list, everything is inventive, everything is pure adaptation. Then, when I get home, I immediately start working on the files: I want the emotions to be still fresh. Seeing that so many people are moved and, in some way, inspired by what I do makes me happy”

In addition to inspiring, the videos of the 26-year-old from Padua have pushed some of his fans to break the virtual barriers and ask for shared outings.

In these group adventures, Omero perceived, strongly and pervasively, the maturation of another great chapter of his life: that of a professional hiking guide.

“It was a fascinating and constant evolution of what I had started doing without too many pretensions. If before I could only communicate with my audience through a screen, then I started walking alongside the people who followed me on social networks and, finally , I felt the will and the need to make this passion a job. I think people who travel with me appreciate how genuinely sociable I am, how I try to create relationships without superstructures”

Thousands of views, thousands of kilometers. For Omar the effort has turned into a means to reach the ecstasy, the sublime. Destinations impossible to analyze with gps and heart rate monitors: emotional destinations, destinations that led Omero’s backpack also on the dirt road to Santiago and that, in the near future, will lead him to face the long Italian and American routes.

“I train every day by running, cycling and climbing. Athletic training allows me to travel with peace of mind, not to feel tired, to experience the journey in its entirety. Now I want to dedicate myself first of all to Italy: there are many parts that I have not visited and it is absurd how many things there are to see in our country. For example, some high routes and the ‘Con le ali ai piedi’ walk are my next goals. Then I will think about bigger projects, like returning to the Way of St James starting by bike directly from home, or some very demanding American routes, such as the PCT”

It is the intimate discovery. Beyond rhetoric, beyond the trivialization of it. Get this out of Omar Martinello’s voice. From his voice transpires the desire to share something more than a simple path or panorama.

After all, his is a particular kind of rebellion. It is the rebellion of sharing, it is the rebellion of a symbiosis with nature that cannot and does not want to be a selfish act.

Credits

Ph RISE UP
IG @riseupduo
riseupstudio.com

Text Gianmarco Pacione

Omar Martinello
IG @omarmartinello
YOUTUBE CHANNEL bit.ly/OMEROyoutube

BROOKS ENGLAND
brooksengland.com


Youth Speedway

‘It takes a special breed of kid to do this’. A journey into the world of youth motorcycling

Rarely has a bunch of kids ever been so important to the survival of their sport. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say motorcycle speedway’s very existence depends on these youngsters turning circles on shale.

Just seven years short of its centenary, British speedway is in the doldrums. If seeing the 2020 league season wiped out by Coronavirus wasn’t enough, an exodus of talent has left Britain’s league teams in the lurch.

The silver lining inside the thunder-black cloud: the British youth speedway championship, ready to supply young riders to fill teams, and fulfil their own dreams.

Speedway, for the uninitiated, is one of the craziest forms of motorcycle racing. Riders slow and steer brakeless machines by slamming the throttle open and forcing the back wheel to try and overtake the front. Whoever’s best at controlling the chaos wins. It’s like drifting a car, only a multitude of times more difficult and with no metal box to hide inside. When it goes wrong, it’s going to hurt.

Kids as young as eight hone their skills on 125cc machines before moving up to 250cc and then finally graduating to the same 500cc engines used by the professionals. Youth speedway championship organiser Neil Vatcher says: “It’s like a big school playground at a race. They all want to win on the track but they get on really well and all look after each other.”

Crashes are common. Thankfully, injuries beyond bumps and bruises are less so. Still, one of the early tests is how quickly they’re back in the saddle. “It takes a pretty special breed of kid to do it”, says Vatcher. “They’re all pretty tough, and they all bounce well”.

Of the 33 riders who raced past photographer Paul Calver’s lens at the Rye House track back in 2017, 13 have places for 2021 with either pro outfits or their feeder clubs. They’re all laying out a pathway for their young successors to follow. “It’s exciting as young riders can now see their dream of making it to being a professional speedway rider”, says Vatcher.

For more information on British youth speedway, younglionsspeedway.co.uk

Credits

Ph Paul Calver
paulcalver.cc
IG @calverphoto

Text Tony Hoare

April 23, 2021


Behind the Lights - Maxime Le Pihif

American football is also French in Maxime Le Pihif’s photography. A chat with the innovative transalpine photographer

Maxime Le Pihif’s photography is reasoned and instinctive. It’s like a play called by a quarterback in the heart of a huddle. It’s something produced by a rational inspiration, something that is constantly looking for a visual touchdown, for an emotional yard to conquer.

The main focus of the young French photographer is on one of the major American sports: the sport of the gigantic Domes, the sport of the sparkling SuperBowl. A particular focus, lived in the virgin land of Normandy: where kick-offs and field goals have only started a few years ago.

Maxime has begun a work of transmission and enhancement of this sporting novelty, he became the painter of a speciality that is finding more and more space in the Old Continent.

“One of my goals is to help the growth of American football in France and in Europe. When I was young I was a wide receiver and I left the fields to devote myself to the study of photography. I think it’s important to create a powerful imagery to bring young people closer to this sport: an atypical sport for our continent. In my country there are few ‘professional’ players. In the coming years I’m convinced that this situation will change, some youngsters have already crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play in the NCAA and soon we will see the first French player in the NFL”

Maxime’s encounter with the oval ball is also atypical: an adolescent epiphany that took shape during a transoceanic voyage. An flash of inspiration grown up on the western end of continental Europe.

“I came back from a United States trip with some NFL jerseys, since that moment I started watching the NFL on tv. In my Brest, a small town in Brittany, before the affection with football I was passionate about motors and sailing. Then I discovered this game and I fell in love with it. With the local youth team I traveled everywhere in Brittany: in the area at the time there were not many clubs. At the same time, when I was 15, I I asked my parents for a camera as a Christmas present and I began to combine these two passions”

A fruitful union. In a few years Maxime reaches the NFL elite, moving from the sidelines of the French provincial fields to the overcrowded American stadiums, then he comes back to immortalize the highest European levels.

“In 2017 I was lucky enough to follow the Detroit Lions alongside the official photographer Gavin Smith. It was the realization of a dream: a sort of photographic university. I had no particular responsibilities, so I lived that period peacefully: I could do what I wanted to do in beautiful contexts. Sometimes I stopped taking pictures and just listened to the noise and the sound of the fans. Back in France I traveled alongside my friend Pierre Courageaux, one of the best safety in Europe. I also joined him in Copenhagen, where he played for the Towers”

Maxime’s shots are animated by the idea of ​​innovation, by a curiosity for lights and movement: a research fueled by a huge passion for the artistic world, attracted by the intimacy of the gesture, of the ritual.

“I love taking pictures of people praying before a game, I like when they hold particular necklaces or symbols. I tend to use colors for individual photos, while for series I prefer monochrome: I think it’s easier for a spectator to identify them. I want my shots to create a reaction that differs from normal sports photography. The creative side is fundamental. It’s essential to focus not only on the technical gesture, but also on the locker room, on the little things that surround an athlete’s performance. I’m passionate of art in general: sculpture, paintings, installations, my work is probably contaminated by all this”

Intimacy, innovation and movement. A multifaceted paradigm that Maxime follows in his most disparate portraits: from Megan Rapinoe to Valentino Rossi, from Odell Beckham Junior to choral ice skating.

Portraits based on the examples of contemporary photographers particularly relevant to the artistic sensibility of the young Frenchman.

“I love Shawn Hubbard’s compositions: his technical cleanliness, the stories behind a single shot, the attention to details… I find all this also in the Lewis Hamilton portrayed by Vladimir Rys. I am struck by Andy Kenutis’ constant ability to find new angles, to play with colors. The Harry Kane photographed by David Ramos is something fantastic, I don’t know what technique he used, probably a double exposure. Ramos, like Eliot Blondet, also focuses on the outside of the sports world: they are photojournalists who are always in the right place at the right time”

Shawn Hubbard

Maxime, a full-time employee of a photo agency in the north of France, is also involved outside the world of American football. His work alternates scrimmage and special teams with athletics tracks and racecourses.

“I love all sports. When I plan a work in something that I know little about, I start looking at the shots of the best photographers in that field. Then I study the lights, which vary from gym to gym, from stadium to stadium. I try somehow to anticipate what I will find, but in the end it’s mostly about instinct”

Joseep Martinson
Andy Kenutis
Harry Kane by David Ramos
Eliot Blondet
Vladimir Rys

Still in the magical decade of his twenties, Maxime and his camera can afford to dream big: American dreams. Dreams of a definitive return to the promised land of American football.

“In the States they offered me a contract. I applied for a visa which, however, was denied. For the next few years I will keep covering sporting events here in France, but my American goal remains real and I will continue to apply for a visa”

Who knows, probably the first French NFL player will be joined by the first French photographer.

Credits

Ph Maxime LePihif

IG @maxjs7
maximelepihif.com

Text Gianmarco Pacione


Behind the Lights – Alexander Aguiar

Athletic divinities and niche sports, Anthony Joshua and Mexican bullfights. We take you into the world of a young photographic talent

Being able to make athletic divinities and niche sports coexist, being able to alternate commercial production and passion, without ever ignoring the concept of art for itself.

The young and intense story of Alexander Aguiar teaches that the apex of sports photography can be touched, lived and portrayed with conscience: in fact, it does not necessarily have to deteriorate personal ethics and artistic research.

The photographic selection sent to us by Alexander confirms these thoughts, showing us an atypical and varied work: shots in which Anthony Joshua, the contemporary warlord of the ring, and an anonymous jockey from South Florida alternate themselves. Shots in which the gaze of Stephen Curry, the Hermes of the NBA hardwoods, is linked to an unknown player of jai alai (an ancient Basque practice).

Jockey from South Florida

Extremes that coincide with each other, framed by a sense of intimacy; extremes marked by the perpetual investigation of the human being. A research that keeps the sporting side in the background: a stylistic figure of which Aguiar has consciously tried to build over the years.

“I think there’s a level of intimacy that connects a lot of my work. It’s something that’s usually easier to find in smaller sport settings, places like events where I have full access and can freely move in backstage areas like the locker room. At the same time, intimacy is something that I try to find with top-level athletes too; I always aim to establish some type of a personal relationship alongside the photographic one, and I make sure to leave sports fan tendencies aside. That part comes easier to me, and I find that it helps to treat celebrity athletes as normal people: as men, women, friends, and parents who are simply good at what they do. I think going into it with a level outlook helps me create a different kind of connection with them”

Intimacy, but also a taste for detail. Wait and understand the right moment to capture. In Alexander’s words, a photograph similar to sports takes shape: a profession made up of sacrifice and intuition. A disposition that comes from his past with a racket in hand.

“I grew up playing competitive tennis, and looked up to athletes like Roger Federer, Marat Safin, and Fabrice Santoro. In the summers I’d train 6-7 hours every day, but I never had a breakthrough. I invested a lot of time and work into it, but I got burnt out. And because of that, I’ve learned to behave al little differently with photography: I try to protect myself in it a bit more, and I treat it with greater care. I know that my root in sports helped instill a work ethic, a level of discipline, and a focus that helps me in photography today. It’s a relevant background, one that shaped my personality and, consequently, my modus operandi”

Rafael Nadal

The years spent in the Under Armor universe were instrumental in shaping Alexander’s professionalism. A magical period, which allowed the still twenty-year-old to rapidly mature a brilliant photographic career.

A bond that began almost by chance on the Maryland campus and which, in a short time, leads him to immortalize giants of global sport, to penetrate the narrow and brilliant lives of Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry and, above all, Anthony Joshua.

Alexander spends a long period of closeness with the British phenomenon of boxe. A two-year time window in which the young photographer’s attention had to focus on his own moral integrity, on not being overwhelmed by the tsunami of popularity, as well as on capturing the perfect fight moment.

“Being around AJ is great. He’s incredibly genuine, and doesn’t seem affected by money or success. I’ve been fortunate enough to be with him for ring walks and on private jets, and I’ve seen fans from all over the world cheering him on. I think it would be easy for me to lose focus if I were an athlete at that level, and I do think being around fame can affect people as unattached to the success as I am. I always try to remember that I’m not what any of the fanfare is about, and I think as a photographer you have to be humble about your role. There’s a risk in thinking that you’ve earned any of the success that you’re photographing, and it’s important to realize you aren’t the leading actor”

Stephen Curry

Undersize yourself to somehow raise the pathos of your photographic work. Undersize yourself to respectfully merge with the moment that could change an entire sporting era. This seems to be the underlying meaning of Alexander’s words.

“I think the most rewarding part of being in contact with celebrity athletes is that there’s always the opportunity for an iconic moment. Before photographing events like AJ’s match with Klitschko, I remind myself that it’s my responsibility to be as good of a photographer as AJ is a boxer. I’ve reminded myself of that while photographing Michael Phelps in the pool and while photographing Tom Brady on a tour of Asia, and it helps keep me grounded and appreciative of the role I play”

It could become normal to abandon your photographic research to devote yourself to commercial work. An almost obvious choice, which Alexander has always rejected, pursuing his own visual and cultural curiosity.

“With commercial work you typically have less creative freedom, so there should always be a balance between professional work and personal work. For example, I always try to shoot the Miami Hurricanes football team when I can. I grew up watching that team play, and photographing their practices and games allows me to get back in touch with some of those emotions I had as a kid. I keep some unpaid work like that in the mix and it helps me to occasionally photograph things simply for pleasure. An example of this is when I shot some personal work of sumo in Japan while there on a work trip, and the concept behind those images eventually snowballed into an opportunity to shoot Tom Brady at a sumo practice a year or two later. I think this is the best of both worlds: the chance to bring personal and paid work together, and creating an opportunity between them”

Florida Panthers hockey player

For Alexander this connection does not seem to dwell on the technical gesture or on the simple portrait: concepts theorized by his historical reference points. Eyes, those selected by the talented American, who have imprinted stories and sensations in their films, giving life to snapshots capable of going beyond the present, the tangible, from the sport itself.

“I chose Robert Capa for his unique depiction of the Tour de France. He’s a war photographer and I think that helped him approach the Tour in a different way. He didn’t photograph the cyclists or what everyone else picks up on. Instead, he got more abstract and exploresd other options, and that’s something I like to do when shooting personal work. The same goes for Harry Gruyaert’s shot, which shows a bizarre, surreal moment of the 1982 Tour. I ended up spending two weeks in France with my mom to shoot the Tour after being inspired by the photography I saw from it. When it comes to Walter Iooss Jr., his legacy needs no introduction. He’s photographed all the sports legends of the last fifty years, and I think all photographers would love to make work that lives on like his will. He has iconic work with Michael Jordan and countless others, but here I chose a portrait from him with Dave Parker smoking in the dugout. With Muhammad Ali work I see the same theme of iconic moments”

Tour de France – 1939 by Robert Capa
Tour de France – 1939 by Robert Capa
Tour de France – 1982 by Harry Gruyaert
Dave Parker by Walter Iooss Jr
Muhammad Ali – 1976 by Dan Dry

And embellishing the unknown is Alexander Aguiar’s next goal: an exotic unknown, which goes beyond the major American sports, which manifests itself in a sports universe yet to be discovered, yet to be explored.

“After this pandemic stalemate is over, I’d like to start traveling again and shooting more niche sports. I enjoy investigating different cultures that way, like how I shot a Mexican bullfighting match a few years back. I like feeling confused in foreign and fascinating places”

Jai alai player

Credits

Alexander Aguiar

IG @alexevanaguiar
alexevanaguiar.com


Fishing like Jesus

They are fishermen and they walk on water. A journey into the world of icefishing

“Jesus walked on water once, I do it every winter” this is a quote you can find on iceshanty, a popular blog about icefishing.

I found this quote incredibly funny and intriguing the first time, it was sent into a whatsapp group that I was added into by my friend Martino. The name of the group was ‘Better served on ice’ and inside the group there were a bunch of stranger to me, people were planning in buying short fishing rods for jigging, a tent, gas heater, spikes for ice, boots: they were talking about sleds, beers, coffe with grappa, salame, ice thickness and baits.

It was pretty confusing at first, but I’m a curious person by nature so at the question who’s in, my answer was like I’m in. Once you say you are in, you are in, and when ‘The Captain’ is Ben, he’s gonna reach out to you.

Ben sends you an incredibly detailed list of things you must have, every single item that is listed is followed by a link with the best deal available for that item: you can get your ice fishing survival kit with less then 200$. I’ve got mine and I showed up at the 4.00 am meeting in Brooklyn and my introduction to ice fishing started.

First you get to the lake, it’s cold, its really cold. Second you try to understand if the bulletin said the truth and the ice if thick enough: I’m sure there are professional ways to secure this step but usually a big rock trowed on the lake should certify the thickness. Third step: trust you step on it, take few steps and drink a hole to verify how big is the ice layer.

Fourth: once you are ready to move you load your sled with everything you might need for the day and you start walking on the frozen water.

Each lake has it’s type of fishes and each fish decided to live and hunt at different levels of deepness, the fisherman does is best to try establish those criterias and chose a spot that in his opinion is gonna be the most successful one.

So you set camp, drill holes, you set up the tip up (traps that once the fish bites the baits are gonna raise a flag), you set your fishing rods and you wait. When I asked into this group: ‘Hey guy’s why do we keep going ice fishing?’ (this is our third year), the answer was some fish, a lot of beers and caffé corretto.

Ice fishing became one of the yearly appoinment that right now we all wait, and this project is documenting our progress and our days into this new sport.

Credits

Paolo Testa

IG @paolo.testa
paolo-testa.com