the last night in beijing
The Olympics is not about socializing. It is about 17 days of endless events and endless photo opportunities.
It is a sports photographers’ dream.
No matter your skill level, if you shoot an Olympics, you will come back home with images that will blow away any sporting event that you shot in the US the four years before.
Unfortunately, the majority of the images will be soulless. They will be slick and they will be intense but most will lack intimacy.
I have a split photographic personality. I can be that sports shooter sitting on the sidelines picking off plays with a 600mm lens. I can shoot peak action, the decisive moment, the play of the game. The photos I produce look great in the next day’s paper but they are not transcendent. Of all the images I shot at the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and Torino in 2006, there are only 2 that I treasure. This past games in Beijing I maybe added two more to that list.
My other photographic passion is long-term documentary work. Photographing simple moments of simple people that reveal universal truths. That is what I truly love to do.
The day after the Closing Ceremony. The day after my work was finished. I had the immense pleasure to spend an evening out with a group of photographers who get it. A group of photographers who are photographers not because of money or fame but because it is part of the fabric of their soul.
On this night, freelancers Kevin German and Sol Neelman and staffers Chris Detrick of the Salt Lake Tribune and Robert Gauthier of the LA Times and I sat around a table and talked about what made our photographic hearts tick. German wrote about it the day after in a post on his blog Wandering Light.
We talked about what we love to do and how less and less publications are interested in this type of work. We talked about personal projects. For Kevin and Sol, everything they do is personal. For us staffers, we shoot a lot of stuff on a daily basis that is part of the job just so we can occasionally shoot an assignment that makes it all worth while.
What is the point of all this. I don’t know. I just felt that my last night in Beijing reinvigorated my photographic soul. It made me realize that no matter how tenuous the future of newspapers was, I would always have kindred spirits out there in the world who shared my passion.