Magazine Article


Assignment: Olympics

Capturing the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games took exquisite planning, mental and physical dexterity, technical and creative mastery, and equipment as tough and finely tuned as the athletes themselves. Here, five photographers give us their strategies for capturing their golden images.

LOU JONES, who has photographed the Olympic Games since 1984, follows three tenets for getting his best shots. "You have to ask a lot of favors from people, break a lot of rules, and don't ask for permission—ask for forgiveness," says Jones. Entering blocked off areas and risking run-ins with authorities, are all part of the job, he notes.

In Athens, Jones says security herded photographers into designated, congested areas, causing intense competition for position.

"When I see a group of photographers, I scurry the other way," he says. "Most media is concentrated at the finish line. But the action and vying for position is at the beginning of most races. And there's often as much or more drama with secondary athletes and their struggles."

To capture photos at multiple Olympic venues—under various lighting conditions at various distances—Jones and his assistants brought Nikon F5s with 600mm f/4 AF lens, 300mm f/2.8 AF, 80-200mm zoom lens (which became his normal lens), 20-35mm lens, tripods, monopods, and Kodak E100GX and E200.

For DAVID BURNETT, cofounder of Contact Press Images, adhering to a few basics is key to capturing his memorable photos: patience, sticking to an idea, pacing yourself, and superior organization skills.

© Serge Timacheff

© Allen Kee

© Rob Tringali

© Allen Kee

© Lou Jones

© Rob Tringali

© Dave Burnett

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