News & Updates

12 April 2019 • General

Alisha’s top ten pole vault images

Ahead of the Huawei P30 Vertical Pursuit in Auckland’s CBD on Saturday we chat to photographer Alisha Lovrich about her top ten favourite pole vault images.

It was casually bringing her camera along to the 2013 New Zealand Track & Field Championships at Mt Smart Stadium, which ignited Alisha’s passion for athletics photography.

At the time a teenage 400m athlete, Alisha’s hopes of competing at nationals that year had been derailed by injury when on a whim the graphic design student decided to roll up to the meet to take some images.

Little did the Aucklander quite realise how that day would make a seismic impact on the direction of her future career.

“I loved the fact that by taking pictures, I could visually create something immediately,” she explains. “I enjoyed the game of trying to capture that right moment at the right time. It was also funny that in Auckland that day, I naturally drifted to take images of the pole vault. I find it the most interesting event to shoot.

“Maybe it is the graphic designer in me, but they are so many interesting lines and bends that intersect verticals and horizontals. Pole vault images are not linear, they are never boring and this allows me to play with the shots.

“The more I photograph the event, the more I learn about more cool angles. Can I grab the vaulter jumping into the sun? Can I get trees in the background to give the picture context? Can I grab a really cool silhouette?”

While Alisha’s photography career has exploded – she attended both the 2017 World Championships in London and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast as a photographer with Photosport and Athletics NZ – her athletics focus has also changed.

“I started vaulting in 2017,” adds Alisha, now a 3.40m vaulter, who is guided by Athletics NZ assistant pole vault coach Brent Booker.

Below are Alisha’s top ten vaulting images from her growing and impressive collection.

Sam Kendricks (USA) – World Championships, London, 2017

“My favourite vaulting shots are always the ones which show the raw emotion and energy of the moment. I guess these could best be described as the ‘money shots’ which encapsulate the competition. This is moments after Sam’s gold medal-winning leap in London. At the back end of any pole vault competition, I tend to position myself to take exactly this kind of shot.”

Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) – World Championships, London, 2017

“I really like this one because Renaud (a former Olympic champion and world pole vault record-holder) is arching underneath the London 2017 sign – it is always special to take an image of an athlete with signage from the event behind because this puts an individual stamp on the picture.

“The designer in me cropped the image so the starting point on the bend cuts through one third and through another third and almost ends in the last third. If you split the screen his hand intersects between points; I guess you could call this the art of composition, which is a rule I often play by.”

Kurtis Marschall (AUS) – Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, 2018

“I love take-off photos, which I often try to bank in the early stages of the competition before I move on and chase those emotion shots I spoke about earlier.

“This shot of Kurtis (the Commonwealth champion) is very clean and his back is in that perfect C shape.”

Eliza McCartney (NZL) – Potts Classic, Hastings 2018

“This image earned me a spot as a finalist in the 2018 NZ Sports Journalism Awards but it was honestly the biggest fluke of my career!

I was positioned hoping to grab a good take-off picture. My immediate reaction when the pole snapped was I hope Eliza is okay, which thankfully she was. Once I returned to my camera I wondered whether I had captured the moment the pole snapped and, unbelievably, I had! Even at ten frames per second, snaps happen so fast and this was really the only good frame.

To break a pole is always scary but Eliza, like the true champion she is, gave herself a moment to regain her composure before jumping again and cleared 4.70m off a ten-step run-up.”

Declan Carruthers (AUS) – Potts Classic, Hastings,  2019

“I love this image; it is so clean. It looks like he is above the clouds. I sat quite far down the runway to capture this image. He pops high off his pole, which as you can see is not that long (in comparison to the bar height which could be at the 5.50m mark). The space between himself and the bar works well.”

James Steyn (NZL) – AUT Millennium, Auckland, 2019

“This was shot at a fairly low-key comp, which gives me the chance to experiment with some different style of shots.

For this one, I was lying down beside the mat looking up at the bar. I was preparing to take some images of James alongside some white fluffy clouds and then suddenly the blacker clouds arrived.

I heavily underexposed the image and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Both the light and vaulter are in exactly the right position to make this work.”

Imogen Ayris (NZL) – AUT Millennium, 2019

“This image was taken in the same competition as the previous one and I call this what I term the ‘swing pan’ position. The ‘swing’ is the phase of the vault and the pan is the low shutter speed I use, which helps generate the blurred background. I like the curved lines and in contrast to the blurred background I’ve managed to take a sharp image of Imogen’s face, body, and legs.”

Eliza McCartney (NZL) – Vertical Pursuit, Auckland, 2018

“I always find Federal Street is an amazing location for photos. It is such a pretty street and with the sun poking through at around 5pm allowed for several lens flares to appear, which adds to the subtlety of the photo. As I recall, this was a high bar, which Eliza made look incredible easy.”

Eliza McCartney (NZL) – Vertical Pursuit, Auckland, 2018

“I love the emotion of the image but I also like the skyscrapers in the background, which gives the impression she is falling from the building, a bit like a superhero. In a similar way to the image I took of Sam (Kendricks) this is a key moment of the competition, which shows just how happy Eliza is feeling at clearing 4.90m. Sometimes the fall to the mat does not look so graceful or flattering, but on this occasion it does.

Nick Southgate (NZL) – Lincoln University Street Athletics Festival, Christchurch, 2019

“This was a different image for me because it was triggered by a remote camera which was positioned on the ground. Alongside my hand-held camera the use of the remote camera allows me to take two angles of the same jump. I like the fact the bar looks almost as high as the building and the distinctive backdrop means anyone who knows Christchurch will be instantly familiar with where the picture was taken.”

***The Huawei P30 Vertical Pursuit takes place outside SKYCITY Casino on Auckland’s Federal Street between 1-3pm on Saturday (April 13). It is free for spectators.