The art of sports photography

NEW YORK -- As Usain Bolt’s smile as he crossed the 100 meter finish line reminds us, for all the video from Rio, it’s a single frame capturing a single moment that tells some of the most compelling stories. 

That’s no surprise to Howard Schatz. Capturing those moments is his day job. He is one of the world’s great sports photographers.

“I want it to be heroic and fantastic and magnificent, and I want to bring throngs of people to look,” Schatz said of his work.

Twenty-five years ago Dr. Howard Schatz changed careers. The eye surgeon left one set of lenses for another, following a calling to capture the brilliance of athletes like former boxing champ Sergio Martinez.

“I hadn’t ever seen anything like it before,” Schatz said of the shot. He knew he’d nailed it.

Schatz’s work is part of the exhibit “Who Shot Sports​” at NewYork’s Brooklyn Museum​. It includes everything from the oldest known sports photograph -- dating back to 1843 -- to Muhammad Ali running underwater.

Masters of Sports Photography

COMING UP: Sometimes a still image can capture human achievement more powerfully than video can. The #WhoShotSpots exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum features hundreds of incredible images throughout the ages from the masters of sports photography. Learn more about each photo here: http://cbsn.ws/2aoYrp2

Posted by CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

“Sports photographs show us the beauty of the human body in motion. They show us the passion, the sacrifice, the disappointment, and the victory,” said Gail Buckland, the curator.

The exhibit features 230 images -- some iconic, some last seen in a long forgotten daily paper. They document both the narrow slice of humanity where excellence dwells.

“These people take human potential as far as they possibly can,” Buckland said.

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Howard Schatz

CBS News


No, it may not be how most of us are following the Olympics, but there is something about how one still image can move us the way video cannot. Schatz has made a career out of it.

“I shoot to surprise and delight myself,” he said. “Truly.” 

He’s just one of many in the exhibit who celebrate human movement by the way they stop motion.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.