off-season lounge: melanie hoyt

Melanie Hoyt, photographer --

Do you change the way you look at figure skating when you're holding a camera in your hand versus when you are just being a spectator?
For the most part, no. If I'm watching skating without a camera, I still see the program like a photographer. I feel a little twinge of disappointment for every great shot that I missed. In general, if I'm watching a skating event live, I want to have a camera in my hands. I don't want to miss any opportunity to create a terrific photograph. The exception would be complicated group numbers, like some of the Stars on Ice ensemble numbers. It's always nice to watch those without a camera, as I always miss things when I'm shooting one end of the ice.

How do you decide which events you'll cover? And which was your favourite event to cover and why?
Expenses are the biggest consideration, since I am a freelancer. I would love to fly around the world and cover everything that I can, but I can't afford it. I do as much as I can, though, and I prioritize certain events, like Canadians. One of my roles at is the chief Canadian correspondent, so I cover events in Canada more often than I cover events at home in the States.

My favourite event to cover on an annual basis is Challenge, the qualifier for Canadians. When it was in Mississauga, I went to four Challenges in a row. I missed it last year for the first time since I began working in media, and it was heartbreaking. It's always so wonderful to see almost all of Canada's dance teams at one place, and since it's not as stressful for me as Canadians, I have a chance to catch up with athletes, coaches, and parents. The flight to Regina is a doozy, but I'm hoping to go back this year.

My favourite event ever was the 2010 Olympics. I wasn't credentialed there, although I did get to photograph the dance events that I attended. The whole experience was incredible. More on that in question #4 [What is your favourite photo of Tessa and Scott that you've taken and why?]

How long have you been a photographer? a sports photographer? and how have you improved over the years?
I have always enjoyed taking pictures, but I really began pursuing photography five years ago. I answered's call for volunteers at the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships. They put a very expensive camera and lens into my hands, and I fell in love. I went home and bought a (less expensive) camera and lens of my own just a few days later. I think that I have improved a lot since the beginning, and that is because I take every chance I get to shoot skating.

I also think about my shots more strategically now. I can be watching a program on Youtube, and if I see something I want to photograph, I'll figure out which angle is best, and then I'll make sure to shoot that program at that angle the next time I see that skater. I often move around during practice sessions at competitions because I have different places where I want to shoot different skaters.  

What is your favourite photo of Tessa and Scott that you've taken and why?
Easily this one:

click to enlarge

I was sitting with four of my close friends, about six rows from the ice, at the free dance, at the Olympics, and the home team had just delivered a flawless program. As they hit their end pose (facing us, in a wonderful surprise for my lens!), everyone was out of their seats, screaming, crying, cheering. It felt like the arena was about to explode, but I stayed calm and kept my camera in front of my face. As they started to hug, I caught sight of the Olympic rings on the boards. I switched my focal point, leaned over one of my friends, and framed up the shot. It's the only part of their free dance that I clearly remember. Everything else is a blur.  

Which segment is your favourite to capture: competition, practice or exhibition?
Like I said, I am happy to shoot anything, but I think that I prefer shooting competitions. I love the energy and the reactions to great skates. I also really like shooting usual practice sessions at home rinks (not competition practices), but I don't get the opportunity to do that very often.

source: original interview


sahararainfall said...

Would it be impolite to ask Melanie Hoyt to make's pics bigger? :) j/k. Seriously though it's very nice of these photographers to respond to your interviews, nice to know something more about the people behind the lens taking beautiful pictures.

iggie said...

i'm thankful as well. it does help to appreciate their hard work even more.