As the Olympic Games draw to a close, photographers from Reuters have spoken about how they captured iconic moments on camera.
Reuters is just one of many agencies that had photographers in prime position at the Olympics. The video below describes their approach to sports photography, with a particular emphasis on track and field events. According to global pictures editor Reinhard Krause, these events are regarded as the most important.
Photographers at track and field have at least three cameras on hand, at all times; one with a telephoto, one with a medium zoom and another with a wide-angle zoom lens. Each photographer may also operate up to 4 remote cameras, as well, placed in strategic positions around the stadium for events such as steeplechase and discus.
The key message from the photographers is that, despite all the technological wizardry and equipment at their disposal, getting that winning shot is always down to them knowing when the decisive moment is happening.
Once the photograph has been captured, it's the job of the picture editor to make critical decisions about what photos to send out over the wire. Russell Boyce, also from Reuters, described on this blog post how picture editors are bombarded with images and have to make decisions on how photos are presented to the world. It's a great insight into the process that goes on behind-the-scenes to make the photographs we consume appear so iconic.
The latest cameras shoot over 10 frames a second — good you might think. We have technology and fast communications that allow these pictures to be streamed to the editor almost immediately. Imagine a 90-second gymnastic routine, followed by a perfect dismount, a roar of applause, tears of joy and a big smile and victorious wave to the crowd. Another gymnast slumps into their seat, more tears, this time of disappointment, realising they have just lost a medal position. Such moments of raw feeling can unleash a torrent of hundreds of images.
Within these hundreds of frames sits the key moment — which I must select, crop and send before our competitors find it in their file. If I fail in my task, our competitor's pictures will be published. If our photographer has a better frame in their raw file, they will let me know in no uncertain terms, later in the bar.