Gymnasts, swimmers, dancers. From above, sport becomes a form of design

Sport in Brad Walls’ works is synonymous with perspective, elegance, geometry. Each composition conceived by this award-winning aerial photographer is in balance between surrealism and perfection, between design and harmony.

In front of the lens of this Australian artist, the sporting element becomes as fundamental as symmetrical spaces and guidelines; the grace of dancers, gymnasts and swimmers embellishes places with an undefined identity, mainly aquatic contexts capable of attracting eyes and minds.

We interviewed this aerial poet. Enjoy the reading.

How was your artistic passion born and how has it evolved over time?

My artistic passion was born through my curiosity and critical thinking nature. For as long as I’ve known I have always been in tune with the ‘What if’ mentality. Ultimately this lead me pick up a camera with no boundaries.

What role did sport play in your artistic production?

I believed that sport was portrayed in a very documentary style, which is fit for purpose. However, when you take a step back, there are so many elements of the sport and sports person that can be highlighted in an artistic way. For example my image “Ball Up” of a tennis player serving – the use of diagonal lineage drew viewers into the subject even further.

How do you choose the subjects to portray and what makes you decide from which aerial distance to shoot?

The lowest hanging fruit is always any sport that happens to be artistic  – gymnastics, synchronised swimming… If the sports are not artistic, the next is to examine the sports movements and their environment. If I can apply design principles to the movements and the environment in a harmonious way, I will often target those sports.

Why is your work particularly focused on the feminine grace of synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics?

As stated in my previous question, artistic sports were the most obvious choice due to being more visually pleasing. I’ve often targeted femininity in my work, as the female body worked best with my aesthetic due to its delicate and softer shapes, as opposed to the male body with a boxier, squarer shape.

What are the chromatic and visual factors that must always be present in your compositions?

My work focuses heavily on composition, look at negative space, leading lines and symmetry, these elements are all found within my work. Colour theory also plays an important role, ensuring there is visual harmony with the colours on the page.

What would you say to those who think aerial photography can be visually limiting?

That theory is false. Aerial photography, or close-to-subject aerial photography, is relatively new, so everyone is experimenting and finding out what ‘works’. Busby Berkely and Massimo Vitali used ladders to create the same angled effect, however I am using a drone. Every artist builds on the works of another artist before them, and for me the technological shift has aided a new generation of artworks

Do you have any plans for the near future? Will you also explore new sports with your camera?

My sports collection will continue to be explored, but I am not rushing it. I would love to revisit artistic swimming with a twist, I have had some ideas that I’ve put on paper, but nothing set in stone. It’s important to have a solid break from each series and the subject matter. At some point my sports will blend with more contemporary work, which I am excited to explore. I do plan to someday do a book with a sports theme, but that is quite far away. I am focused on my ‘Pools’ collection right now for 2022. 


Photo by Brad Walls
IG @bradscanvas

Text by Gianmarco Pacione