By Lina Frunk
Delly Carr is Australia´s top freelance Sports photographer. His 30 years of ethics and lifetime list of clients reads like a who´s who of the Australian sporting scene.
Delly Carr loves Star Wars, collects old toys, and has a big box filled with years of scrapbooks. They are, he claims, the essence of himself. He hates his cat, Peaches, and she hates him. This isn’t the side we usually see of the acclaimed sports photographer; we see the images, not the man.
His photographs blur the line (usually thick) between sports photography and fine art in a nuanced and creative way. It is Delly’s personality that really has something to offer aspiring photographers. Luckily for us, Delly is not afraid of sharing his success.
“Sports photography is part of my life, I’m obsessed by it,” states Delly Carr.
‘Obsessed’ is a word that keeps popping up when you listen to Carr speak about his photography. Along with the words ‘compulsive’ and ‘perfectionist’. He claims it´s these descriptive words that make him difficult to work and live with. However, it is also those words that have enabled Delly to create a magic formula in order to become a great photographer. At an Adelaide swimming event, Delly noticed the shapes of light on the pool, how it moved when a swimmer swam beneath it. He came back the next day; checking the swimming schedules, and the light. He waited for hours before everything lined up the way he had imagined.
“I ended up with an angel, I ended up with wings and a halo,” Delly explains. That image wouldn’t have been possible without Delly’s fascination and patience. Sometimes, however, patience needs an acquaintance, courage, to take over.
Delly recalls his three-day trip to capture San Fermin, running with the bulls, in the Spanish city of Pamplona. He spent the first two days behind the safety of the fence where all other photographers were, but those photos turned out to be “shit”, according to Delly. On the third day, he decided to go to the edge of the cliff, or in this case, climb under the fence. He was in the direct line of the bulls, in order to capture that perfect moment. He got it, but it didn’t come without a price.
“The bull’s hoof hit my camera,” Delly says. He admits that it easily could have hit his head, landing him in a Spanish hospital with an expensive bill or worse.
“The more seasoned bull photographers thought I was an idiot, and they were very close to being right.” Delly argues that courage, with a bit of recklessness, is a key element to get the best images.
Based on the great shots Delly produces, he could easily be arrogant and get away with it. Instead, he comes across as incredibly humble. With most of his best images, he applies a notion of luck. If the bull hadn’t jumped at that precise moment, you wouldn’t be able to see the runners in the background, and the image wouldn’t be the same. Delly advocates being cocky about your images. If you’re not, who will be?
Japanese fashion designer, Minori was inspired by Delly’s style of photography. Delly made such an impression Minori, that she made a dress in his honour: the ‘Delly Dress’, capturing his recurring theme of earth and sky in the design. An accolade for any artist is to be commemorated in someone else’s work.