“The Horse in Motion” (Eadweard Muybridge, 1878)

I will be examining the ways in which the industry of sports photography has influenced and been influenced by the development of advanced photographic technology, as well as major moments in sporting history that were made famous through photography. My hypothesis is that the desire to better photograph sports helped drive innovation in the development and popularity of digital photography. The objects included in this project will show the advancement of photography specifically as it pertains to documenting sports, which I find to be an effective lens through which we can see how photography has advanced to better capture high-speed events and enable photographers to capture closer, high-resolution images.

American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos with Australian sprinter Peter Norman (1968)

I anticipate that the objects selected for this track will mainly be models of cameras that were made popular through their use by photojournalists and sports photographers, as well as models that made particular advancements in fast-motion photography. Additionally, specific pieces of camera equipment like the telephoto lens may be applicable as well. I would also like to explore the use of drones in sports photography, as they have become a staple in sports broadcasting and I suspect that they are useful in still-image capturing as well.

My key dates will be those which pertain to the history of sports photography, as well as the development of photography itself. With these dates, I will specifically be showcasing how the early development of photography has significant ties to sport itself. This is particularly well-demonstrated through Eadweard Muybridge’s “The Horse in Motion” photographs. For the better part of the last century, many important moments in sporting history, with ties to significant sociocultural and political phenomena, have been documented through photography, such as the 1968 Black Power salute at the Olympic Games, Y.A. Tittle’s famous hit, and Muhammad Ali’s first-round knockout of Sonny Liston.