A photographer from Sheffield has scooped an unprecedented prestigious prize, coming in both first and second in the LEN Aquatic Photo Competition for 2010.
Simon Wright, who lives in Millhouses, is the official photographer for GB Swimming and his striking images take the squad’s stars out of their natural context and into new and surreal environments.
Taking underwater photos, many at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, using unusual angles and light, he distorts the senses to turn the subject into a work of art.
And yet, despite the plaudits, he does the photography out of a love for aquatic sports, taking the incredible photos for free to help promote the sport ahead of the Olympics in 2012.
He said: “I just want to put the sport on show in a new light to encourage and motivate more youngsters to do it. It needs a modern image and I try to put a showbiz ‘X Factor’ type of twist on them that people wouldn’t normally see.
“It’s important for sports to have an interesting image. They need to present themselves a bit differently to attract people to swimming and promote the sport ahead of the Olympics.”
Simon travels across the country taking photos for various clubs and although he receives high praise for them, was shocked to find the email telling him he’d won the competition.
“I nearly didn’t even enter and eventually decided I may as well submit three photos on the night before the deadline. There were about 500 photos in the running so obviously it was great to come first and second.”
He explained how he takes the unusual photos: “I use a lot of studio techniques but I have to set them up in or next to a swimming pool which can be tricky. It’s quite a risky set up because I basically just put my expensive camera gear in a bag and take it underwater. I haven’t had any disasters yet though, touch wood.”
Simon, who when he isn’t snapping works as an IT consultant, regularly has his work displayed at Ponds Forge, and his exhibition ‘Dare to Dream’ was displayed in the lobby during the British Gas Swimming Championships.
Speaking about Ponds Forge, he said: “It’s a fantastic venue and we’re lucky to have it. I swim there and having travelled around to take photos at a lot of different places, it’s still one of the top venues in Europe.”
Helen Broadbent, general manager at Ponds Forge said, “Congratulations to Simon, whose photos help to give swimming a unique and exciting look.
“We regularly display the photos he has taken at Ponds Forge and have no doubt that they will help to inspire and attract more young people to the sport.”
For more of Simon’s work, visit www.gbswimstars.com
and to find out more about Ponds Forge and Sheffield’s other venues, visit www.sivltd.com