The photographer Howard Schatz is renowned for his sculptural portraiture; with heavily contrasted and high resolution images, he is able to capture human bodies in a way that echoes architectural monuments. Through his lens, the human form glistens, morphs into powerful abstract shapes. His project With Child highlights the strength inherent in the pregnant form; he catalogues female bodies right before and right after birth without a trace of the triteness often applied to the subject matter. This same reverence for the female body translates in his 2002 portraits Athlete, a project which has only recently been getting the attention it deserves.
Kathy "Wild Cat" Collins (boxing) #3
In Athlete, Schatz catalogues many of the world’s top champions; each impressive subject is at the height of physical excellence based on his or her chosen sport. While women are art historically shot with less contrast and softer lighting than men, the idea being that men’s musculature must be highlighted to emphasize strength while women should appear smooth and soft, Schatz refreshingly photographs his female and male athlete subjects similarly. He tells Huffington Post of the female athletes, "Their commitment, their focus in life, their goals for winning and championship were not different from the men's. [T]here wasn't a feminine focus, a feminine ambition.” And their ambition is apparent in the images!
DeLisha Milton (basketball) #8
The oppressive beauty and physical standards normally applied to women are irrelevant here; each woman and her own unique form is as striking as the next. Women of various races, heights, shapes, and sizes stand side by side, and each one is the very best at what she does. Take a look, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Aimee Mullins (sprint & long jump) #3
Images via Huffington Post and Howard Schatz