For those of you who visit my web site with any degree of regularity will see, this is the first blog posting for a very long time. It was just impossible to try and keep up with regular postings as the Games drew nearer so I apologise for the break.
Well, after 15 months of long hours, frustration, triumphs and working with about the best team of Photo Managers, Deputies and Volunteers ever assembled it’s all over. The London Olympics and Paralympics has finally drawn to a close – and what a Games it has been. Despite all our fears of transportation mayhem, bad weather, poor British performances and a million other details, the XXX Olympiad will go down in history for all the right reasons, and I am incredibly proud to have been a part of it. Everything and everyone, came together to produce what is already being called the best Olympics ever.
Prior to London if you had asked anyone who has been to a few Games which was the best, the almost unanimous answer would have been Sydney. When members of the Sydney organising committee took their hats off and said ‘London, you bettered us’ I think that said it all. Added to that, from my own perspective within Photo Operations, when the heads of the world’s major Photo Agencies and many, many individual photographers came to our offices at the end of the Games to tell us how easy their work had been compared to other Games, how good the photo positions had been, and what excellent treatment they had all received from our staff, it made the hard work all worthwhile.
Despite not being able to take photographs during the Olympics themselves there are several memories that will remain with me forever. The first Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium was an experience that will probably never be equaledÂ in terms of pure sporting excitement. The stage was set when a virtually unknown British longjumper won the first gold medal of the night, and a momentous evening continued with Jessica Ennis winning gold in the Heptathlon. Finally, when Mo Farah ran the 10,000m the atmosphere was at fever pitch. As each lap continued you could close your eyes yet know exactly where on the track Mo was, you simply had to follow the wall of sound that swept around the stadium as he progressed. And yes, Bob Martin the Photo chief and myself would have both loved to have been able to photograph these triumphs, but consoled ourselves in the knowledge that we had made the photo positions and opportunities the best they could possible be.
Then there was the night of the men’s 100m and the inimitable Usain Bolt. Of course, we knew it was going too be busy but hell there were lot’s of other sports going on elsewhere as well. With around 1600 photographers accredited to the Games it was always difficult to predict where they would all go. One photographer even selected his spot at 8.00am that morning and remained there until the race was run after 9.oopm – that’s dedication for you. Finally, by the beginning of the evening session a rough count indicated that around half of the 1600 had decided they just had to get a ‘Bolt’ photo. Every nook and cranny seemed to hold another photographer with a long lens. I actually felt sorry for the guy who had been there since 8.00am when he realised that guys who turned up 10 hours later got exactly the same shot. In face around 500 of the photographers were all shooting the race head-on. Imagine 500 photographers shooting a race that lasts less than 10 seconds all shooting at 14 frames a second and effectively all getting the same photo (that’s about 70,000 photos of one race). And how many of those race photo were ever published – not that many as of course Bolt’s antics after the race has been one is the photo most editor’s are wanting. One photographer Jimmy Wixtrom from Aftonbladethad had an even better idea and handed his camera to Bolt shouting out ‘take your own photos’ which Usain obligingly did.
These are just two memories out of dozens that stick in my mind, the noise in the velodrome, watching Phelps sweeping down the pool, the amazing equestrian venue out at Greenwich Park, and not least the fantastic opening ceremonies themselves. All of this to be rapidly followed by a Paralympics like no other. Who could have possible anticipated that the Paralympics would be played out in the stadium to a capacity crowd of 80,000 people for every session, twice a day. In fact there was barely an empty seat at any of the Paralympic venues, and why should there be? These Paralmpians showed us a level of sport that was in every way equal to their able bodied teammates and put Paralympic sport firmly on the map.
Now I am back in Canada I will be getting back not only to posting regularly again but also to getting the Photo Workshops and Tours back in operation. Whilst I will be continuing to offer some classroom workshops, and wildlife photography workshops and tours I am also currently working on a series of sport photography workshops. These will take place at various locations worldwideÂ including International team training camps, and some major sporting events. You will have the opportunity to work and learn from a couple of the worlds leading sports photographers. More on this soon. In the meantime please let me know if you are interested in any photography workshops and I will add you to the mailing list and keep you informed as developments take place.
If you would like to hear more about my Olympic Experiences and view a show of some of the best of the Olympic Photos I am also available to do talks on the photography at the London Games to any groups. Again please contact me if you would like to discuss this.