Women are underrepresented in sports coverage. Here's how this photographer is changing the focus
'They stand in front of the camera and they don’t put a mask on'
In Alana Paterson's photographs of young basketball players, swimmers and hockey players, athletes often stare back at the camera steadily, even defiantly. When Paterson cites a study of 2014 sports coverage, she may be explaining the reason why: out of about 35,000 hours of sports programming, only four percent exclusively featured women's sports. Beginning with a project shooting young women in hockey, Paterson has worked with female athletes across many sports - she's photographed the first women's team in any sport to come out of Tibet, she's worked with the women's basketball team from Squamish Nation and now, she's shooting with women from the Canadian swim team.
To Paterson, it's clear that making these photographs visible to female athletes has a formidable impact. She says, "What we know is that girls react really positively to images of their mentors. So if you can show a girl – on a regular basis – images of a female athlete like her, doing what she wants to do, she has an incredibly good reaction to that. Boys have the same reaction but it's just taken for granted because they always have access to their heroes or mentors. It's everywhere. It has a benefit for anybody but girls just don't receive that benefit enough."
In this video, you get to tag along with Paterson as she shoots with swimmers Emily Overholt, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson and Haley Black, both in action and at rest after their practice. And you'll get to see why that determined look shows up on many of their faces. Paterson says, "They're looking at the camera and they're like, 'Hey, I'm here. I've been here this whole time, playing my sport that I love that nobody supports. I've been here the whole time. And you're looking at me now and I'm a little bit pissed.'"
Follow Alana Paterson here.