Joe Pugliese Gets Comfortable with the US Women’s Hockey Team for ESPN
Last year when Joe Pugliese shot for ESPN’s The Body Issue he worked with two athletes who trained and competed mostly outside in gorgeous – or at least warm – weather. But this year, Joe met up with six members of the US Women’s Hockey team in an ice rink to take some very active (and very naked) photos of the athletes. Kacey Bellamy, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, and Alex Rigsby bared all on the ice for Joe and his crew and had a much easier time than Joe did. “The ladies were less affected by it than me and my crew,” says Joe. “I was freezing all day and they were wearing nothing and it didn’t seem to bother them at all.” Even with the extreme temperature, these ladies were in their element and it shows in every frame. Joe, on the other hand, had a few adjustments to make.
“Doing a photo shoot on ice was a much bigger challenge than I could have imagined. I’ve never shot anything on the ice and I took for granted the idea that when I shoot my feet are firmly planted on the ground and not slipping,” says Joe. “The way I shoot I move in and I pull back and that changed immediately. When I started shooting I had to move very slowly and deliberately and thoughtfully. So that played a factor.” After shifting his shooting style slightly, the day became just like any other shoot. He framed up each shot while the ladies were in robes, and once each look was ready to go the athletes disrobed and Joe fired away. Each image is so carefully and technically calibrated that Joe didn’t even have time to get distracted by anything other than capturing a fantastic series of images. After all, that’s what they were there to do.
ESPN's annual The Body Issue gives all of us the opportunity to see our favorite athletes in ways we almost never get to see them, which can be tantalizing on one hand, but it is much more than that. Athleticism is often presented dominating, overpowering, and blunt. But images like what Joe captured with the US Women’s Hockey team can teach us a more graceful lesson: “It’s to not hide your strength,” says Joe. “These women are in the shape of their lives. They’re all very proud of how hard they work and what that does to their bodies and I don’t think it crossed anyone’s mind to not want to show that. I think it’s revealing to show the athleticism of a sport like hockey which is usually hidden by so many pads; they don’t have the same benefit of a gymnast or a runner to show their body. Underneath all that armor they’re absolutely well-tuned machines.” Not all of us have bodies like finely tuned machines, but they are what we have and this annual issue reminds us that what we have is ours, we live in it every day, and we can be just as vulnerable as anyone else. It’s not only our bodies we can work on, we can also work on loving them no matter how they look.