The origin of Polo is in dispute; some scholars say the earliest recorded history of Polo being played is from the 1st Century AD, in Persia. In its earliest avatar Polo was designed to be a training exercise for Cavalry units. Some records however say Polo originated in Manipur, India.The name Polo is the anglicised version of the original name 'Pullu' translated from the Tibetan for ball. In time Polo evolved as a game played by the royalty and aristocracy.
Royalty and vibrant colours are perhaps two most obvious associations an audience makes with the game of Polo. A photographer however sees the games as that of speed, raw power, action, agility and strength. A game of Polo is fast and furious; with the horse reaching top speeds of upto 35 miles an hour. Polo is played in seven minute intense periods called 'Chukkers'.
A Polo game is a challenge especially when the photographer want to capture speed, agility, strength, get the right sunlight and capture the ball in motion. Shooting a game of polo requires quick reflexes, experimentation with shutter speed and panning techniques. A quick research of Polo shooting techniques reveals the ideal way to shoot polo is on high shutter speed and wide aperture. This ensures crisp pictures with the right depth capturing details of horse, rider and the audience sitting at a distance. Some photographers however do not restrict themselves to the vanilla advise for shooting Polo as they result in similar images shot by other photographers.
As with other shots the most interesting shots emerges when a photographer is willing to move out of his comfort zone and is not shy of experimenting with various techniques at his disposal.
Here is a collection of black and white images from the Indian Polo circuit that captures the essence of the game.