Photographer Candice Ward’s background is in newspapers, but she turned her focus to sports in 2013 when she started working with local women’s tackle football team, the Calgary Rage. Since then, she has been the team photographer for the Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Roughnecks and the Calgary Stampeders, and has a client list that includes the Calgary Flames, Hockey Canada and other organizations.
“I always played sports as a kid, so I’ve always been able to understand it,” explains Ward. “The feeling you get when you photograph sports, to capture that, it’s almost like you’re playing. You can never go back and repeat that moment again.”
Many teams have pre-game rituals and Ward likes giving fans insight into what game-day life looks like beyond what is seen from the stands and screens. She uses her knowledge of the sport and the team to figure out where the major plays will happen in order to get the best possible shots. When shooting hockey, for example, “I read the body language of the goalie and the defending players in front of the net to know where the puck [is coming] from: whatever direction they’re looking is where the shot [comes] from,” she says.
Sports photography is a competitive field. There are fewer job opportunities out there these days, and, when photographers manage to land these positions, they typically don’t leave them. Along with a disproportionately low number of women, the field also has a disproportionately low number of Indigenous photographers; Ward happens to fall into both categories. “I don’t know any other Indigenous woman photographers shooting high-level sports aside from myself, and that, to me, says that if there are women out there who want to do it, they need to see themselves in that role,” she says.
“Showing youth, women, anyone in my community that there are places for them in these professional sports organizations is important.”
Ward’s favourite part of the job is getting to watch the progress and development of various players throughout their careers, but also getting to capture those moments. “You’re documenting history. You’re documenting player history, you’re documenting team history, and it’s really cool to know that you’re a part of it.”