April 2, 2010

Van der Meer’s portraits of football pitches

Filed under: Photography,Sports by Branko Collin @ 5:21 pm

A couple of years ago Hans van der Meer published two great photo books about amateur football, one focussing on the Netherlands, the other on Europe.

Each photo is a portrait of a football pitch, set against backdrops of cities, polders, bays, mountains, almost carved from the surroundings and sometimes literally so. These pictures immediately take you back to what football really is about: twenty-two guys (or gals) running after a ball, in solemn concentration, the only audience often one or two reserve players and a referee.

Sometimes when hiking through Dutch nature I turn a corner and stumble upon other hikers, or horizons with power lines and chimney stacks. “Oh no, civilization!” And at other times I suddenly encounter two goal posts rising from the undergrowth. “Oh yeah, civilization!”

You see, a football pitch is a promise. Something exciting could be happening here. The Huntelaar of the future could be practicing his bicycle kicks here, the next Messi his dribbles. Or players could just be having fun.

Although each of Van der Meer’s photos displays an ongoing match, it is the setting that makes it clear that here the fulfilment of that promise is taking place.

Van der Meer’s website has extensive excerpts from his books, which you can also buy at Amazon.

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