Photography exhibition captures spirit of Paralympic athletes
September 06, 2012
Blade runners and wheelchair rugby players have been captured in action for a Paralympic photography exhibition.
Sally Bryant found out more from photographer Michaela Greene
A timely exhibition opening at South Hill Park on Saturday should inspire everyone to push for their dreams.
Photographer Michaela Greene followed Paralympic athletes over 18 months and the result is a fascinating study.
Living Life shows nine people doing just that – and doing it to the max.
Michaela explains: “I had the idea of living your life to the full, which is something I aspire to do, and I thought, ‘how can I show that?’”
This was in 2009, so the London 2012 Paralympic Games weren’t in her mind. But then she visited WheelPower, the national organisation for wheelchair sport, at Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual home of the disabled sports movement.
When she got to know the athletes, she knew she wanted to capture their spirit.
Michaela’s eye-opening project took her into two spinal units, Stoke Mandeville and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (Stanmore), which specialises in rehabilitation.
She shadowed wheelchair rugby players, including the now Paralympic captain Steve Brown and the team’s sole woman member, Kylie Grimes.
Also in the eye of her camera were amputee volleyball player Anton Raimundo, blade runner Jonnie Peacock and wheelchair tennis players and racers.
She says: “I purely wanted to capture these people who really live life to the max – I hadn’t shot any sport before, but it’s all about speed.”
But her angle isn't just the achievements on the pitch or track.
The exhibition consists of three photographs for each athlete – a black and white portrait showing an element of their personality, a sport shot and a location that is meaningful to them.
“The locations were interesting. One is Tower Bridge, because one athlete is really interested in architecture, another was a roof garden overlooking St Paul’s and another is Westfields shopping centre!”
Michaela is 33 and based in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire.
She graduated with a degree in psychology but then got involved in photography, learning what is now her profession by assisting an experienced photographer.
Her work is mainly commercial, for magazines, design agencies and charities. Living Life is completely different and well worth seeing – it might even make you reassess your slant on life.
Living Life is at South Hill Park in Bracknell from Saturday to Sunday, November 18. Entry to the exhibition is free.