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'The Image, Deconstructed' spotlights photographer Thomas Boyd

Excerpted from The Image, Deconstructed

Photographer Thomas Boyd:

Some time has passed since that day. The photo ran double-truck in Sports Illustrated, it’s won some awards, and a 40x60 print hung at Pro Photo Supply in Portland. I went on to be The Oregonian’s Timbers beat photographer after they entered Major League Soccer. I shot over 30 Timbers games in 2011. I know this is just a sports photo. It’s not going to change anyone’s life or make the world a better place. Even so, I think it ended up being a moment in Portland’s history when the city believed that Major League Soccer could work. It has historical significance.


While I shoot a ton of sports, I don’t consider myself a “sports photographer.” Even so, I feel compelled to stick up for sports photography. I know that most of it is completely trivial in terms of its role in the world. I learned from watching my kids’ basketball games that struggle, triumph and growth are the subtext for every contest. No game is trivial to the athletes playing it, and it’s up to us to tell the story.

I also have to mention that shooting as much sports I do really helped me make this photo. I don’t think there’s any better way to fine tune image-making skills than to shoot sports on a regular basis. It helps me see and compose quickly. I helps me run my gear in an intuitive way. And when a photographer shoots a lot of sports, they get better at seeing the peak of a moment and they have the timing to nail it.

I bring that up because I’ve seen some photographers act like shooting sports is beneath them in some way. My message is that there's no shortcut to achieving what you want with photojournalism, other than paying your dues and doing the work.

Learn more about Thomas Boyd, how he made this picture, what it's like to shoot MLS games and his approach to photojournalism.