Yao and Mao
After a tip from Sol Neelman (thanks dude!), I woke up early this morning and ventured to the Forbidden City in hopes of photographing the Olympic torch as it started its three-day trip around Beijing in advance of Friday’s Opening Ceremony.
Due to tight security measures, the official torch website made no mention of the route or times that the torch would journey about. Luckily for me, Sol, who is staying with a Chinese couple, found out that it was to start at 7am in the Forbidden City near Tiananmen Square.
With that knowledge, I arrived at Mao Zedong Memorial Hall totally expecting to be turned away. For some reason, whether it be dumb luck or good fortune, LA Times shooter Rob Gauthier and I were allowed to enter the City and walk all the way up to the area were the torch would be lit. There were only about 10 photographers there and Rob and I were the only American shooters present. In addition, we were the only two photographers without the proper credentials.
Rob and I split and up and I spent the next two hours photographing the people and participants in the torch lighting ceremony.
Finally around 8am, the torch started through the Forbidden City. I ducked in and out of relay and eventually found myself photographing Yao Ming as he carried the torch past a portrait of Mao Zedong.
I couldn’t have scripted the scenario any better.
My Yao meets Mao photo isn’t the most dynamic image I have ever made but it possibly is one of the most historical. One thing I am sure of, it definitely is one of the most memorable.