November 29, 2021

Étienne Garnier, first winner of the Richard-Martin sports photography award

On June 26, Étienne Garnier took this shot of Swiss Marc Hirschi caught in a collective fall 7 km from the finish of the 1st stage of the Tour, between Brest and Landerneau. He was awarded for this photo. (Étienne Garnier)

At the end of the line, his voice still twitches with emotion … Étienne Garnier learned the day before that he is the first winner of the Richard-Martin prize for best sports action photographs. His image was chosen from a selection of 278 photos sent by a hundred colleagues from around the world. It shows the Swiss Marc Hirschi, injured following a fall during the first stage of the Tour de France 2021. Gathered on October 12, the jury was made up of ten members, photography professionals or very enlightened amateurs including the foilist Enzo Lefort, host Nikos Aliagas and journalist Renaud Dély. “I am delighted, I take this award as a tribute to all sports photographers, and to Richard of course …” Pillar of the photo service of The team, Richard Martin died in July 2020. Étienne Garnier remembers having rubbed shoulders with him on a report, the coverage of the Coupe de la Ligue Le Mans-PSG (1-4) meeting on December 18, 2019. “We drove back and forth. We laughed a lot, told bullshit … He gave me lots of tips on the life of a photo reporter, he had traveled so much. I recorded everything, it was a size! “

Obtaining such a prestigious prize brings Étienne Garnier (33) back to his Norman adolescence, in Flers. Every day he buys The team and scrutinize each photo, remember the framing, the angles of view and the signatures. “Richard was remarkable for the swimming photos. That’s how I started dreaming of becoming a sports photographer … “ He was already a die-hard cyclist at the time. Hence his happiness to embark on the roads of the Tour de France in June on behalf of The team, where he has been collaborating regularly for a decade.

“And there, I see Hirschi in a cluster of ferns, his bike next to it. He has the mask, he suffers, he is alone “

The crowned photo, he takes it from the first stage, day of apocalypse in the middle of Finistère. “It’s the second big crash of the day. I’m at the back of the pack on the bike. Suddenly I hear a huge metallic boom. Total chaos! A tangle of wheels, frames, guys yelling … Immediately, I rush. (Christopher) Froome is on the ground, I am looking for the most famous runners. There is blood. I make myself as small as possible so as not to be in the way. And there, I see Hirschi in a cluster of ferns, his bike next to it. He has the mask, he suffers, he is alone. I see a lot of green. I feel there is something visual. I apply myself, I take care of the frame. He seeks comfort. For a brief moment, our eyes meet. I support. “ The award-winning photo is the first in a series of fifteen snapshots. The sequence lasted thirty seconds