Personal Best by Paul Floyd Blake


Over a period of five years, award-winning photographer Paul Floyd Blake regularly photographed sixteen young athletes in the build up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. His work documents a unique time in British history, and captures the development of a generation of sportspeople as they grow from childhood to adulthood within the intense world of elite sport.


Blake’s restrained and subtle portraits offer an alternative to conventional sports photography, with its emphasis on dramatic moments of action. Instead, his images pay tribute to the long slog towards glory that is not usually seen or celebrated, whilst excerpts from the athletes’ own writings offer insights into their personal hopes and fears. Blake’s approach emphasises the individual’s own story and motivations beyond the values and structures of competitive sport, as the title Personal Best suggests.


These complex portraits bear repeated viewing and will continue to reward the onlooker long after London 2012 is over. With specially commissioned essays by curator Pippa Oldfield, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, and Professor Jonathan Long, Leeds Metropolitan University, this book will interest sports fans, cultural historians and those interested in new approaches to contemporary photography.




Text by Pippa Oldfield, Rosie Bancroft and Professor Jonathan Long


29 cm x 25 cm

112 pages

Design by James Corazzo,


Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing in association with Impressions Gallery 2012

ISBN 978-1-907893-21-6

14 in stock