Oslo, Norway - 2023
Casper Ruud is the fourth highest ranking men’s tennis player in the world. This is something Norwegians are rightly very proud of given that the nation is more recognised for producing elite alpine skiers.
These are heady sporting days for the country. They also currently boast the most talked about footballer on the planet and a very competitive professional golfer in Viktor Hovland. Ahead of our show in Oslo in late September, we have spent some time in Norway photographing some of their stars and the opportunity to work with Casper was a treat.
He is the most likeable and modest of sport stars, especially given his position in the world rankings, and is single handedly creating a tennis boom in the country. As we have seen with Croatia and football, success begets success and that makes his career and legacy very relevant in Norway. It happened in Sweden a generation ago and Casper is aware of the responsibility his success has bestowed upon him.
I wanted to play on the relationship between the player and those that follow him with the intensity that only sport can deliver. The end of every rally can elicit almost identical emotions in both protagonist and fan - whether that emotion be opened mouthed elation or head in hands disappointment. The bigger the point, the bigger the emotion, and therefore the sense of behavioural harmony is amplified.
My preconception was that this photograph should be cinematic and, in my pondering, I had an idea as to what would work in the background. It needed to be abstract to lead the eye to Casper, but it also needed to inform. There was a fine balance and it’s an iterative process. I think we got there in the end.
No sport creates this sense of unity between player and spectator more than tennis.