Steve Bonini is renowned for his work in sports photography. Famous for his stellar freezes for brands of every kind across the world, Steve Bonini’s shots have earned plaudits in the form of prestigious awards that include Communication Arts, The One Show, Graphis, The Kelly Awards and Archive.
Sports Photography is a whole lot different from most other forms: while most people might be quick to dismiss it as “action” photography, the fact is that it really is a lot more than just action. Capturing sports while in motion involves a lot of nuanced effort: ranging right from capturing the emotions as raw as they come, to the defining shots that change the very direction of the games that are played. The right moment never comes twice. Think of that winning shot that hits a six out of a stadium, or the smash that is delivered straight at the unassuming player wielding his tennis racquet in the a whole different direction. Think of that winning stroke of luck that takes a swimmer close to the end line by a nose. Think of that amazing, spectacular finish in a race, or even the whinny of a horse preserved in Polaroid after a tiring ride at breakneck speed.
And that’s what Steve Bonini’s photos are all about. His infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, his brilliant work capturing track athletes, basketball players, cyclists and what not. Bonini’s photographs also include the repertoire of sportsmen and sportswomen in preparation. His photography walks the extra mile to portray the story behind every effort that culminates in victory. The expressions, the body language, the beads of sweat, the fatigue-laced touch of success and victory find tremendous and overwhelming expression in his work. He paints the truth of anticipation and defeat with the same stroke of genius, and captures the silent encouragement a player derives from the audiences around him.
The best of his pictures include the Sporty Range, a set of pictures that captures swimmers underwater, ready to keel into the blue to dart to the finish line, and pictures of a weight lifter in sound preparation, a golfer having swung his caddy to knock the ball off, the addition of an enhancement in the form of a fiery tail for a rugby ball that has just been thrown in the air, a swimmer doing a brilliant back flip, sprinters and cyclists on all kinds of terrain, baseball players and even trekkers. Bonini’s message in these photos is reminiscent of the range of emotions that form the microcosm of man. To see a soldier and a sportsman on the spot is to jog up all those conflicting emotions. To capture them and preserve them in Polaroid forever, is to lock the nuanced attributes of humankind into a frame. That’s what Bonini does, with ease and aplomb.