German-based Getty Images snapper Matthias Hangst captured this eye-catching shot of world 100m hurdles record-holder Kendra Harrison at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. Matthias offers his take on the image.
“As a former steeplechaser, I’ve always had a close connection with athletics and it is one of my favourite sports to cover. Athletics always offers such variety – running, jumping and throwing. It is also one of the last sports to take place in the daytime. It is true that 100m final is often at night, but because of the long days of action some of the athletics programme is always in the sunlight, which is great for photography because we need light. As photographers we also love to take photos and another attraction of covering athletics championships is we get eight hours a day to take photos - far more than for a 90-minute football match.
“Taking a shot of an athlete under the hurdles is nothing new. On this particular day in London I was assigned a finish-line position where my basic job was to capture athletes’ reaction as they cross the finish line. There is, however, a little scope to take some other types of shots like this one looking through the hurdles – but why this works so well it is Kendra’s body shape.
“There are a few of technical challenges for this type of picture to work. During the day, for example, it rarely works as the sun hits the surface of the track creating a heatwave which leaves the picture out of focus. So, as this picture was taken in the evening on a cooler track this was not a problem. The second challenge is I needed to shoot this image with quite a long 600mm lens.
“I was obviously keen to shoot Kendra because of her status within the sport and I had a bit of a feeling it might work, although I could not predict her body shape. The other reason it works are the nice colours - blue, pink and purple. Advertising boards are also often a big issue and as photographers we prefer a clean background but in this instance, the hurdle obscures the advertising and the official is mainly hidden.
“So, this image works because of the colours, the nice background, the body shape and the athlete’s face looking up towards the camera.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF