Photographer Aspland puts his art into his book

Marc Aspland, a three-time awards winner at the SJA’s British Sports Photography Awards, has brought together some of the most outstanding images from a quarter of a century of work to publish his first book, The Art of Sports Photography.

One of Marc Aspland’s knock-out pictures that appear in the book, this showing the end of Ricky Hatton’s boxing career. The image won the SJA’s Sports News Picture prize for 2007

Aspland, the chief sports photographer of The Times, was involved in a life-threatening road accident earlier this year, when he was knocked off his bike and left unconscious at the road side. Only now is he beginning to get out and about.

The publication of this volume of his work, therefore, is a vital boost in his recovery.

In an interview published by his equipment suppliers, Aspland said, “I was one of those lucky people in that photography found me. As a young kid, I was into skateboarding, surfing and football. I was 13 or 14 when my brother and I went on a coach journey to the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

“A couple of the guys were very keen amateur photographers, and I was given this tool that would let me take pictures. In those days, it was pretty obvious and basic stuff, but it was the spark of something, and it quickly became far more than a hobby; more than skateboarding or surfing. It became a real focus of what I wanted to do.

“The equipment has changed beyond recognition during my career and an image taken at 1/8000th of a second can be transmitted directly from my EOS-1D X to the offices of The Times from almost anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. Speed of filing images is now the priority but I believe quality will always surpass quantity in the race to have a picture published.”

A photographer of sport: Marc Aspland
“A photographer of sport”: Marc Aspland

Aspland was prompted into putting the book together by another SJA member, Keith Blackmore, his newspaper’s then deputy editor. A dummy book was prepared to present to prospective publishers, and eventually Prestel, who sell many of their books through museum art shops, were selected.

Many of the images ultimately selected for the pages of the book will be familiar to SJA awards regulars – Aspland has been a regular among the outstanding short-listed entrants for more than a decade, his pictures usually caption the emotion of an event in the blink-of-an-eye.

His luxuriously designed book, of 144 pages, contains more than 100 images of some of the biggest names in sport, including David Beckham, Usain Bolt, Rafael Nadal, Mike Tyson, Jessica Ennis, Roger Federer and Jonny Wilkinson.

As one of the fans of Aspland’s work has described him, “He’s not a sports photographer. He’s a photographer of sport.”


Thu Dec 11: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery, at the Grand Connaught Rooms