Paper Tigers: Sports Photography

Photographs from the 'Paper Tigers' exhibition - an anthology of contemporary Australian photojournalism - capturing sport events in Australia and overseas

“Yes” Serena’s best celebration (2005) by John FrenchHead On Foundation

Photojournalism, a mirror on society

Celebrating the best of Australian photojournalism, the Paper Tigers exhibition presents 60 images from 60 of the best Australian photojournalists. It is through the lens of these photographers that we understand and experience much of the world's events.

“Their work captures the intensity and passion of skilled athletes. From a nation of sports lovers, it’s not surprising that Australian sports photographers are among the best. To record a crucial moment in a flurry of movement requires planning, anticipation, position and an astute understanding of that sport.” Alan Davies, Emeritus Curator of Photographs at the State Library of New South Wales

Last Place at Brunette Downs by Glenn CampbellHead On Foundation

Glenn Campbell

Last Place at Brunette Downs

Photographer Glenn Campbell has had images published on just about every front page of every major newspaper in Australia, as well as a few runs overseas as well. 

In his image, Campbell captures the last place runner at the Northern Territory's oldest race meeting on Brunette Downs Station.

Farmer and shooter, Ian Hengstberger and his Russian Brown Bear by Andrew ChapmanHead On Foundation

Andrew Chapman

Farmer and shooter, Ian Hengstberger and his Russian Brown Bear

Andrew Chapman has photographed Australia's political leadership since the early 1970s. He has also continually engaged in personal projects, including shooting extensively in Australian rural communities.

In Chapman's picture we discover farmer and shooter, Ian Hengstberger, whose hobby is hunting, and he's fairly serious about it, as his stuffed Russian brown bear will attest. Ian had the bear brought over to Australia after clearing the customs paperwork.

Encierro (2011-07-13) by Delly CarrHead On Foundation

Delly Carr


With numerous World Cups and 10 Olympic Games as part of his resume, Delly Carr has been photographing professional sport in Australia and abroad for over 33 years. 

Photograph Encierro captures the Running of the Bulls at Feria de San Fermin, Pamplona, Spain on 13th July 2011. 

Ahmed Kelly by Alex CoppelHead On Foundation

Alex Coppel

Ahmed Kelly

Alex has worked as a staff photographer for the Herald Sun in Melbourne for over 19 years. Working as a press photographer, he has developed a wide variety of skills - photography is not only his profession, it’s also his hobby. 

Copel captured paralympian Ahmed Kelly in training for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Victorian Institute of Sport in Melbourne. Born in 1991 with significant disabilities in all four limbs, Kelly was left at a Baghdad orphanage for the majority of his first seven years. 

After undergoing surgery in Australia to remove the deformed sections of his lower legs, Ahmed learned to walk with the use of prostheses, and before long, he began to run. His inspiring recovery soon led him to his sporting love of swimming. Ahmed continues to compete as an athlete in the Paralympic Games. 

Invictus Games (2018-10-24) by Craig GoldingHead On Foundation

Craig Golding

Invictus Games

Craig Golding commenced work at the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) in 1985, photographing news and sport both in Australia and overseas. In 2008, he left the SMH to pursue a freelance career. Craig has won more than 75 national awards for his photography and over 45 international awards

Golding's photo captures Mark Ormrod of the UK making his way from the podium after being presented with a gold medal during the swimming event at the Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia on 24th October 2018. 

The Invictus Games were founded by HRH The Duke of Sussex in 2014 as an international adaptive sports event that celebrates the healing power of sport. The fourth Invictus Games were held in Sydney from 20-27 October 2018. 

The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country. It is a competition that seeks to ignite their ‘unconquered’ spirit.

Preparing for Take Off by Dean LewisHead On Foundation

Dean Lewins

Preparing for take off - Bald Hill, NSW

Dean Lewins has been a photojournalist for the past 30 years. He joined the Australian Associated Press (AAP) in November of 1999 in the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

In Lewins' photograph, a paraglider prepares to take off at sunset from the world-renowned hang gliding and paragliding launch site of Bald Hill, south of Sydney.

Goal? (1999) by Grant WellsHead On Foundation

Grant Wells

Goal? - 1999

Grant Well’s photojournalism journey started in 1982 at The Advocate Newspaper (a regional daily in Burnie, Tasmania). His 34 years there saw him work his way through the ranks, finishing as Chief Photographer in 2015 after a Fairfax restructure. 

In Goal? an Australian Football League (AFL) goal umpire signals a goal during a country football league match, despite not being able to see the other end of the field due to thick fog…relying on the sound of car horns celebrating a goal at the other end of the field to trigger his flag-waving. 

All Waste Accepted (2016) by Jake NowakowskiHead On Foundation

Jake Nowakowski

All Waste Accepted. Melbourne Cup, 2016

Jake Nowakowski is a staff photographer for News Corp’s Herald Sun. Jake has covered numerous news stories, both nationally and internationally. Amongst his industry accolades are Best News Photo at the Quill Awards and Nikon-Walkey Award nominations.

In 2016, Nowakowski captured the debauchery unfolding on the infamous public lawn at Flemington Racecourse, as racegoers became involved in drunken antics after a long day of festivities during Australia’s most prestigious horse racing event - the Melbourne Cup.

“Yes” Serena’s best celebration (2005) by John FrenchHead On Foundation

John French

“Yes” Serena’s Best Celebration

John French joined The Age newspaper as a 19-year-old cadet in 1969. He went on covering all types of major assignments; including the Australian Open tennis, the Australian Football League (AFL), a couple of Commonwealth Games, and a United Nations Middle East trip including Egypt.

"Yes" captures Serena Williams winning the 2005 semi-final against Maria Sharapova 2-6, 7-5, 8-6.

This image highlights the spontaneity of a match point, and also the difficulty of trying to be in the right spot. At Flinders Park way up in the roof cavity, it is extremely hot, no water is allowed, and every item of gear has to be attached to you in case something drops.

Serena went on to defeat Lindsay Davenport in the final and only celebrated by falling to her knees.

The Bodybuilder by Janie BarrettHead On Foundation

Janie Barrett

The Bodybuilder 

Janie Barrett has been a staff photographer at The Sydney Morning Herald since 2005. She has won a PANPA award for best feature photograph and two Kennedy Awards for her long term photographic essays. 

In her photograph, a bodybuilder flexes in front of a line of young girls who were just waiting for the next act, a children’s entertainer, at the Coogee Fun Day, in Sydney, Australia.

Jillaroo Sprint, Carrathool, New South Wales (2019-03-02) by Noel ButcherHead On Foundation

Noel Butcher

Jillaroo Sprint, Carrathool, New South Wales, 2nd March 2019.

Noel worked for Melbourne’s Herald & Weekly Times for 20 years, starting as a copy boy in the Pictorial Department and finishing as Day Picture Editor of the Herald Sun. After the Herald, he free-lanced for 20 years.

The annual Carrathool Races always provide great fun for the crowd, with special events such as the Jackaroo Dash and the Jillaroo Sprint, where most of the contestants doff their shoes for extra grip in the dirt track, which was officially classified as ‘Good’ on the day.

Explore more iconic imagery from Australia's best photojournalists, in our series of Paper Tigers stories.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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