The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Timing Can Be Everything

Like most everyone else I have been watching the Olympics this week. The opening ceremonies were amazing and a photographer’s dream. Can you imagine having that as subject matter?

Watching all of the other events – while watching the sport action – I am also noticing the camera gear in the background. At one event (gymnastics I think) there was such a sea of cameras – it seemed the scene went on and on for quite a bit of space. The photographers are packed in tightly together too! It makes me wonder how they can breathe being so close to each other. I guess the photographers are not claustrophobic. Or, if they are, they are dealing with it in order to get the one great shot.

How can one person come away with that one great shot when so many are going after the same thing at the same time? There are certain athletes that are big names and draws for the cameras. You know when they are in action they have so many lenses focused on them – and the continuous shooting modes – these guys must be burning through the memory cards!

When you are taking photos with a group, it can be difficult to get a photo of “your own.” I have listened to the podcast of Brooks Jensen tell about submissions they receive at Lenswork. He says with many of the portfolios received, he can tell whose workshop someone has been to. So how do you stand out, be unique, not look like everyone else?

Part of it is timing. There is always that one person at an event that snaps at just the right moment to capture the split second something happens. It could be a news event – like when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. I have heard interviews with a photographer who took the photo just after that famous photo was taken. He told of how his friend, colleague, competitor, had shot his photo just a split second before he did. Of course the photo timing and the angle made that one photo famous. Many of the photos that stand out in our minds seem to come from big news events. These images make the memories of the events for us.

For me – the images of the Olympics are pretty predicable. The gymnast in poses and on an apparatus, the cyclists on bikes, boxers, runners, etc; all of these people are doing what is expected. Last night I was watching the swimming. Of course I saw Michael Phelps win another race. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of Phelps swimming, warming up, stretching, etc. – doing what is usual and expected.

Today I saw a photo of Phelps that is very unexpected and I find it interesting. An AP photographer by the name of Itsuo Inouye captured the moment when Phelps finished the race. In this particular race, the 200 meter butterfly, he had experienced a problem with his goggles. They were filling with water and he was unable to see. The photo taken after the race tells the story of his feeling for those goggles! Timing on that photo was everything. The goggles are caught in flight. I first saw this photo on The Drudge Report this morning. I have searched to find the photographer to give proper credit.

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