Ever since the invention of photography, the medium has been used to capture and document performances in all their guises. From the thespians who take to the stage in theatrical performances, the dancers who entertain us in their spectacular shows, to the singers and musicians who woo us with their beautiful renditions and the sportsmen and women who impress us with their physical prowess.
Performance shots capture the essence of an event, documenting it, recording it and memorializing it for future reference. And when done well, the photographs themselves can become a work of art in their own right.
Performance is an exciting and often adrenaline-filled genre of photography as dynamic action shots can be some of the most challenging to take. This exhibition highlights the transitory nature of action-orientated photography. Fractions of a second separate the everyday from the exceptional. Modern cameras allow us to take multiple shots rapidly, but the ability to anticipate the decisive moment remains key.
Henri Cartier-Bresson summed it up by writing “photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”
Our Performance exhibition was conceived early in 2012 as British excitement grew in anticipation of hosting the Olympics. Local sporting events were photographed as communities played their part in preparing for the Games. Our sports photographers have captured some of the tension, excitement and sheer spectacle of a remarkable sporting year. The images taken at the Paralympics are particularly powerful.
Other photographers concentrated on artistic events, from dance and theatre to street performance and music. The intensity of stage lighting and the restricted access available on site tested their creativity and ingenuity. Some photographers preferred to take control of the scene with studio style portraits and the use of models. Strong images were nonetheless produced with costume, make up and photo editing software.
Yehia El Alaily, Protim Bannerjee, Kerri Bartup, Miguel Angel Lozanzo Bonora, Sucheta Das, Nicola Davison- Reed, Zdravko Dimitrov, Albert Horton, Lisa Helena Kelly, Hayley Langan, Lucy Millson-Watkins, Martin Parratt, Hannah Presdee, Vanessa Teran, Clee A Villasor, Tri Pamuji Wikanto, Kris Wood