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Photographer's view during the Olympig Games opening ceremony

A lens on the Olympics: First, find a good spot

Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times

On the field where Usain Bolt will soon be electrifying the world, a gaggle of geese scurries past a handful of sheep.  Ridiculous?  Sublime?  That’s for you to decide. I just take pictures.

Opening ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics is an hour into a reenactment of British history, and I’ve been standing in one spot to photograph it for four.  The main show, which lasts four more hours, hasn’t even started. The photo above is my view of the action and the one below when things got better. I’m here in London with colleague and photographer Wally Skalij shooting the Olympic Games for the duration. Videographer Myung Chun is also shooting the scene outside. See our shots from the opening ceremonies here.

Day one, and my marathon starts with a sprint.

“Event journalism,” for the photographer is 90 percent production, 10 percent photography.  Despite our desire to find that perfect angle or shooting position, we are often at the mercy of organizers and PR firms seem to consider us less than human.  It’s become a made for television world, and we’re just peeking around the corner to give our readers a look. At least it feels that way when I’m shooting from one of the more “desired” positions and I can’t even see Paul Mcartney sing “Hey Jude.”

Enough complaining.

This is my fourth Olympic games. Photographers, myself included, like to think we’re similar to the athletes.  Not athletic in the classic way.  Yes, we need strength to carry up to 40 lbs. of equipment, and the stamina to handle it for hours on end.  Our real test comes when we must win the battle of position.  Dozens to hundreds of colleagues from around the world are looking for the perfect angle on the action.  In this case, it’s usually “the early bird gets the prime spot.”  Once I’m set – I sit. Shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of other guys. On a hot day (this is the Summer Olympics), the smell can be described as “exotic,” at best. As the action heats up, we are all lost in the moment.  Focused on elite athletes in search of glory. The soreness in my shoulders and butt melts away, as does the smell.  I’m oblivious to the shutters pounding thousands of frames and the surging cheers of an excited crowd.  In a matter of seconds, hours of work is rewarded and it’s time to prepare for the next battle.

This is the first in series of dispatches from our photographers covering the Olympic Games.

More Olympic Games photos: Olympic portraits | Opening Ceremony | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Complete coverage

1 Comment

  1. July 31, 2012, 6:21 pm

    nice dispatch, Iwould love to read more, I'm even more interested to read what photographers go trough shooting the games, than seeing their awesome work…Hopefully there will be more :)

    By: pompob

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