Lysts on the Lake is one of our longest returning clients for combat sports photography. Started in 2011, this action-packed tournament happens every year. It takes place on the estate of Austin game developer and entrepreneur Richard Garriott. Lysts on the Lake is the largest competitive joust tournament in the world.
Combat Sports Photography: The Tournament
At Lysts on the Lake, contestants compete in different forms of western martial arts. The most recognized of the tournament is jousting. Competitors ride on horseback and attempt striking once another with a tip of a long spear. The riders use frangible tips that break easily when striking an opponent. Made from spiral cut pine, the tips shatter upon contact. There is high respect when competing, and as a result much work goes into ensuring safety of every rider.
Other categories included mounted skill at arms where contests demonstrate superior horse control while performing various tasks. These riders and their horses spend hundreds of hours training for the competition. One of our favorites is an event we call “wack bonk,” or the melee a’cheval (mounted melee.) Contestants fight each other with wooden maces.
It’s exciting for us as photographers to shoot an event like this. Not only do we get to showcase our photographic skill, we get a front row seat to an exiting sport and tradition. The contestants take on this tradition with much honor, and it shows; everything is as accurate as possible. Specialized artisans create most of the armor, and some of the competitors even hand make their own. Every contestant is highly skilled because of the high level of respect for their craft.
We used different types of photography to shoot this event. We took action shots as the competition was underway. Between competitions, we made portraits for the contestants. We noticed and captured meticulously crafted ensembles. Many of the athletes spend hundreds of hours painstakingly crafting, maintaining, and upgrading their armor, but don’t have professional photos.
It’s been fun every year photographing this event, and we can’t wait to join in on the action again next year.