Tuesday, 30 October 2012

'The Heart and Art of my Rugby Photography' Review

I received Paul Hart's 'The Heart and Art of My Rugby Photography' to review and I was immediately impressed by the 288 page hardback. The old cliché of 'never judge a book by its cover' doesn't ring true with this book - the layout and cover is very inviting to the eye and I was immediately intrigued at what pictures lay beyond.

As you delve inside, it is clear to see that Hart has immense talent with the lens and truly captures some outstanding images. Since the London Olympics, grassroots sport in Wales - and indeed the UK - has come under much closer scrutiny, especially in regards to how authorities can get more people involved in sport. Without people like Hart, who go out on Saturday afternoons - regardless of weather - to document and record, the bare bones of this great game could become inconspicuous all too quickly.

The book is separated into two main sections: Rugby Action and Rugby People, with both of these divided into a number of sub sections.
In the Action section, my favourite pictures tend to come from 'Action favourites' and 'Rugby hits' as, as Hart rightly states in the intro, due to the nature of shooting live sport, you never get the same shot twice and that intensity is evident.

In the Action section, the opening photo (see above) of Wick captain Joe Barnes tackling his Bridgend Sports opposition is a particular highlight of mine. Indeed, the shot could come 
straight from a high-end sports advert - Barnes' unequivocal determination is captured perfectly in his face; as he takes down the opposition, his forearm reads 'No half measures'. Another brilliant shot captures Sports player Pete Roberts on his way to score in photo 010, the elation on both his and those faces of the supporters behind him embodies the unprecedented joy rugby can bring.

The Hits section definitely lives up to the billing 'Rugby isn't a contact sport, it's a collision sport' with picture 035 my pick. This particular photo shows Jamie Lorimer putting a would-be tackler to the floor, the pure aggression on his face coupled with the SW Police player mid-air drew my attention time and again.
 ‘The highs and lows’ section for me epitomises the game completely. The entire chapter captures what sport and indeed rugby is all about: taking the highs with the lows and enjoying playing the game you love - be it union or league - with the sections 'favourite faces', smile for the camera' and 'celebrations' particularly emotive in this regard. The 'Big Hitters' section is full of characters who I wouldn't fancy bumping into in a dark alley - photo 173 capturing Lee 'Stella' Steelmach of Bridgend Sports my photo of the section.

Being from the Bridgend area and an active member of grassroots rugby through playing, coaching and refereeing, I was pleased to see grounds and people I recognised in the rugby vitals section of the book.

All in all, I think the book would make an ideal gift for any grassroots rugby enthusiast in Wales. It is a picture book by design, but functions on a much deeper level than just a collection of photographs: it tells the story of players and clubs involved and you also go on a personal journey with Hart through his pictures. As a nation, we are extremely passionate and perhaps this is why we love rugby so much and that passion and energy is perfectly conveyed in this book; the elation of winning, the heartache of loss, that collision of two people trying to impose their will on another.

If there is one small criticism I have of the book it would be the locality; I would have liked to have seen a wider array of areas and people covered. That being said, however, you have to acknowledge the great work Hart has done, not only in covering these matches but also getting the book published, enabling him to share the great relationships he has built that has ultimately helped to make such unique rugby photos possible.

 Packed with pictures from both codes of rugby, it is priced at just £20 - You can buy ‘The Heart and Art of My Rugby Photography’ here 


  1. Paul Hart is a rare talent and an extremely popular photographer. Laura's review has accuratly put into words what Paul has a shot through the lense

    Mark Jones

  2. Sport photography is one of the hardest and yet expensive kind of photography. You need to have the right equipment and skills for you to deliver the right photos to the community.