Stephanie Meek has taken her passion for photography global by capturing iconic moments in sport. The Sydney-born photographer, who now lives in London, has shot international events such as the Netball World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“I am still most proud of taking the image of the US Women’s celebrating their win at the most recent World Cup in France this past summer,” she says.
“It was definitely an opportunity I would never have dreamed of having, and being able to showcase some of the emotions and athleticism of the team, particularly back home, was something I am so proud of being able to achieve.”
Stephanie was originally interested in shooting landscapes, but from a competition she won the opportunity to photograph the Socceroos World Cup Qualifier. This led her into the world of sports photography.
“I had been photographing for a while, but never considered combining my two passions of football and photography,” she recalls.
“After that match, I instantly reached out to teams and was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to volunteer for Canberra United and Newcastle Jets W-League sides.”
Sports photography requires a balance of creativity, coordination, knowledge about the game, and attention to detail.
When asked about getting into the field, Meek advises; “I think the most crucial step for me has been just getting out and photographing. I’ve learnt a lot from making mistakes be it; missing a moment, having the wrong shutter speed, or an image not being in focus.”
She adds on; “Don’t get me wrong, these things still happen, but like everything, they become less frequent with more practice.”
The media plays a crucial part in ensuring that female athletes are valued equally to their male counterparts. Despite the progress that has been made for women in sport, The Clearinghouse Australia estimates women’s sport makes up only 10% of sports coverage. To advocate for equal representation for women, it is important to examine the inequalities that occur behind the scenes in the media.
Stephanie discusses these challenges in sports photography; “From an overall industry point of view, I personally have found there are less financial opportunities available to photograph women’s sports. The majority of women’s sport that I have covered has been unpaid work and although this is certainly shifting, it naturally correlates with less overall coverage of women’s sports.”
However, she adds that the attitudes in the industry are shifting positively; “Although sometimes the gender balance in a media room can be stark, from my personal interactions with other photographers I haven’t overall found my gender to be a challenge.”
“I think I have been fortunate enough to have been able to find individuals (of both genders) who are supportive, lift me up, and challenge me.”
The media also connects young girls with their sporting heroes, which is essential in maintaining their interest in sport. Having positive role models in the public sphere is key in girls being able to visualise themselves as athletes. Stephanie’s social media platforms are full of powerful action shots celebrating the skills and personalities of female athletes.
“I feel really humbled that my photographs can provide this connection between both young children and their heroes. I think looking back on my childhood, although I played football for 10 (or so) years, I don’t recall seeing many images of women’s footballers, particularly growing up,” Stephanie says.
“For me, it has been a real privilege not only to showcase these phenomenal athletes to the younger generation, but also to capture their joy and excitement when they come to see their heroes.”
We’re looking forward to hopefully seeing some of Stephanie’s images submitted for our Women in Sport Photo Action Awards (WISPAA) which is open for entry submissions until 31 May. Click here to learn more.
Keep up with Stephanie’s photography on Instagram: @stephaniemeekphotography
Story: Gabrielle Egan – WSA Digital Media