When I first contemplated shooting hockey for a professional team, I did a lot of research on it. Sports photography in general can be a difficult pursuit and I believe hockey ranks among the most difficult to cover well. As I looked online for inspiration, I noticed a trend. The shots I really liked the most, the ones that captured the intensity of the game and the personality of its players were typically the work of Bruce Bennett. Bruce is to hockey photography what Wayne Gretzky is to the sport itself. Bruce is the man when it comes to capturing the intensity and passion of the sport.
Somehow I missed the fact that Bruce put out a book of his favorite work last year. I stumbled across it online recently and I couldn't click the "buy now" button fast enough. As a hockey fan and a photographer of the sport, I had to have this book. Bruce's career of over 5000 games and more than 2 million shots have been distilled down to 246 images. Wow. The editing effort alone is staggering. It's a well rounded collection presented here. There is everything from player portraits to behind the scenes candids to game action and cup raising. These are the shots that are important to Bruce, chosen as much if not more for their meaning to him as their historical importance in the sport. Many have anecdotes in the captions and there are some real treasures in those for hockey fans.
In my coverage of the sport for an AHL team I shoot in the neighborhood of 600-1000 frames a night, editing down to maybe 20% of that number. Bruce has been shooting the game long before the advent of digital cameras with machine gun shutters. It is so humbling to read that a lot of his early games were shot with basic 35mm cameras and only a single roll of film per period. We have a great luxury of being able to rattle off virtually unlimited frames these days. Bruce was much more selective back in the day and he produced some amazing work. I'm sure he shoots a lot more frames himself these days. Still, the message I take away from his body of work is that it is not about the gear, it's about capturing the moment, whether on or off the ice.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky
"Ditto." - Bruce Bennett