Labour of love

Third series of Rage photos by Ward a tremendous success

In the aftermath of an emotional win over their archrivals, the Edmonton Storm, members of the Calgary Rage took part in an empowering photo shoot with superlative photographer Candice Ward. Having issued excellent portfolios of Rage players in seasons past, Ward was aiming for a much different tone in 2015.

Ward opted to take photos of the Rage immediately after the game. Taking into account that the players were drenched from torrential rains, a natural element that only added to the glorious rush that emanates from clashing on the gridiron, it proved to be an artistic touch. From the sweat adorning their exhausted yet victorious faces, to the raw emotion that the camera captures, the end result was a wondrous collection of strong, powerful women.

An additional pair of factors added to the impact of Ward’s photos. By having the photos taken in black and white, there is a component of realism that colour cannot always project. Enhancing every photo is a quote from the featured player, indicating why they play football, providing a sincere genuineness.

Esther Hong, who has been photographed by Ward for each of the Rage portfolios comments on this third series, “I thought having the pictures taken right after the game was genius! Just raw, in your face real women of tackle football!”

Joining Hong in such sentiment is defensive back Amanda McKenna. Like Wong, she has also participated in all three photo shoots, cherishing the experience, “She does amazing work and is a fantastic photographer. We are privileged to have her interested in our team.”

Holly Arthur photographed by Candice Ward

Holly Arthur photographed by Candice Ward

Among the subjects that Ward photographed, a new member of the Rage family was included. Having proudly donned the jersey of the Halifax Xplosion in the Maritime Women’s Football League, Holly Arthur is enjoying her inaugural season with her new club. Having never worked with Ward before, she was ecstatic at the opportunity to work with such a proud supporter of the club. In reviewing the entire portfolio, Arthur became a new fan of Ward,

“I was really happy with the way not just my photos turned out but the photos of all of the girls. Candice truly is talented; I do not know how she managed to make all of us look that good after playing a full football game in the rain!”

Such sentiments are shared by others on the squad. Among them in Ashley Shoemaker, who is serving as the starting quarterback for the Rage in 2015. Ecstatic with the way her photos turned out, she was also in awe of the mystifying way that her players were projected.

“Yes, I am super happy with my photos and everyone else’s as well. They all look great! Candice wanted to do something different this year, something more natural and not so staged. We took this year’s shots right after our rainy home opener. We took our jerseys and helmets off and went to Candice, to give an after game look to the shots.”

Elaborating on the creative process, Ward opted to use a more efficient approach, while staying faithful to her gridiron vision. The result is an authenticity that builds on the previous portfolios, while remembering to showcase the powerful strength and gentle beauty that is female football.

“I like two things about this series. One, on the technical end of things, I did this set completely different from the last couple of years. I had a pile of gear and assistants with me for the last two sets. This year, I went with as little gear as possible for these photos. Because these take a lot of time and energy, and I was not able to include everyone who wanted to take part last year.

This year I wanted to make it easier to include anyone who wanted to take part, so this meant one shoot and doing it as fast as possible. For this set, I shot 6 frames total for each girl, with one speed light off camera. I also did not retouch the images like I have in the past (other than converting them to black and white).”

Pam Buccini, courtesy of Candice Ward Photography

Pam Buccini, courtesy of Candice Ward Photography

Featured with her son in Ward’s 2014 portfolio, Pam Buccini grows in admiration of Ward’s creative capabilities behind the lens. “I like how she can capture the ruggedness of how I look after a game yet somehow was able to make me look good and tough (laughs). I do not know how she does it. Her ideas are unique and creative year after year and so fun to do. We’re really lucky to have her!”

Having also roamed the sidelines at Calgary Stampeders games, looking for the perfect shot, Candice Ward is one of the most accomplished female sporting photographers in Western Canada. Her presence at Calgary Rage contests adds relevance to a group of hard-working and dedicated women devoted to increasing the presence of female football in Alberta. With the camera as her instrument, and the subject as her canvas, Ward creatively composes a series of photographs that meets with praise from Rage players.

“On the more creative end, I love that these photos are much more realistic than what I have done in the past. The last two years were more exaggerated versions of what they do. These photos are very realistic and raw. The girls had just come off the field and had enough time to let the imprints of their helmets fade off of their foreheads.

Thankfully, they had won their game, so I think that helped girls get excited about taking part, so I got 19 of the girls to take part. I am really happy to show that football is an inclusive sport. This set shows women of all shapes and sizes and ages – all taking part for their own individual reasons.”

Erin Walton, courtesy of Candice Ward Photography

Erin Walton, courtesy of Candice Ward Photography

A competitor for the Canadian national team at the 2010 and 2013 editions of the IFAF Women’s World Championships, Erin Walton worked with Ward for the first portfolio of Rage photos (taken in 2013). Although Walton sat out the 2014 season, she managed to contribute to the team in a coaching capacity. Returning to a playing role in 2015, she was more than glad to appear in front of Ward’s camera, allowing her genius to flow,

“Candice is a wonderful photographer! She always seeks to put the Rage players in unique photos and looks to increase our opportunities to showcase not only the sport of women’s tackle football, but us as diverse, strong and beautiful women and female athletes. She is invested in helping showcase our team and sport in a positive light and is a valued part of our Rage team.”

Having worked with the Rage for three seasons, Ward’s efforts with the team are truly a labour of love. Every portfolio comes across with its own unique flavor and charm, only adding to the magic for both photographer and subject.

“I love the Rage. They give me the chance to push myself creatively and provide me with an impressive supply of models always willing to take part in any ridiculous idea that I have. I am lucky to have supportive women in my corner who believe in what I do as an artist.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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