Friday, February 21, 2014

A day shooting photos "behind the scenes" of the Olympics - with exclusive access

I received an email last night at 2am asking if I could shoot the women's team lunch today at noon. I got to sleep at 4:30am once again, but was able to get up and make it into the Olympic Park to photograph the event. I am really glad that I did, because it was fun hanging out with the women and to see them in a little better mood than last night. And I should also mention that the USA House (where the lunch was held) had the best food I have had in a month. Seriously, I would do anything for a regular American breakfast or some good sushi. But that's another story....

I shot a bunch of photos of people mingling, like any other event, but then found this cool backdrop and started shooting all of the women with their medals. This is a photo of the Lamoureux twins showing off their silver medals.

After photographing one of the woman, she insisted that I wear her medal and take a photo. Since I had done this in London, when the women's water polo team won gold, I was eager to do it again. After all, how many people get to wear an Olympic medal? And, by the way, the medals are incredibly heavy. As I was packing up to leave around 2:30pm, one of the athletes mentioned that the whole team was going to meet at the Olympic rings, to head up to the Today Show. I saw this as a great opportunity to do a team shot for the women (like we did for the men) and get some behind the scenes of their interview with Matt Lauer.

When we all arrived at the rings, we were greeted by the Today Show team, who were getting ready to shoot a quick remote segment on the rings.

Before the Today Show went live, I got all the girls on the rings and we took some photos. I had asked Al Roker and Matt Lauer if they could photo bomb the team shot. Matt was busy prepping, but Al jumped in. :)

And then the Today Show team went to work.

They told me that the team would not be on the air for another 45 minutes, so I quickly walked the mile back to the press center to grab my ticket for tonight's game and my "up credentials" to get into the locker room area.

When I got back to the Bolshoy Ice Dome, they had all the women setup and they let me jump in and shoot during the interview. Before Matt came over we got the "eyes shot" with everyone looking at me instead of the TV camera.

And then Matt interviewed the team.

Good stuff...

And then, before Matt left to walk back to the main set, I asked him if we could do a group shot with him. He is a very nice guy and readily agreed to join the shot.

Then, I was given access to the Today Show set, where I shot a couple of photos of them doing their morning show.

And when walking around the back of the set with the team, we ran into some of the figure skaters and ice dancers. Here is a photo of Polina Edmunds (who lives in my town), Julie Chu and Meryl Davis.

Here are some of the women with Charlie White, who not only does ice dancing, but turns out to be an avid hockey player as well.

Right after shooting the Today Show photos, I quickly went down under the Bolshoy to try and get access to the men's locker room. The team wanted these photos, but getting into the locker room is always a difficult task, even with the up credentials.

I enter the arena through the media entrance and then, instead of entering the press area, I turned right and headed towards the athlete entrance. I was stopped by a security guy who refused to let me go any further. As I was pleading my case, my contact for USA Hockey popped out and started negotiating for me. While they talked, I went in. And then I stayed in for an hour and helped the equipment guys get everything set up.

It is pretty cool to be the only photographer allowed to photograph this. But what would be cooler is a win over the Canadians tonight. I guess we will know that outcome in another 4 hours. Till then...


Unknown said...

Jeff, great photos. am enjoying your journey especially seeing it unfold from a photographers view. to be young again and have your stamina. your shooting style is like mine in shooting at events. showing others what else is happening along with what is happening. being able to sample other events and feel all that excitement while trying something new.

keep up the great work

JulieM said...

Love all your photos, but the one with you wearing the silver medal is pretty cool!! Your commentary makes us all feel like we are almost there experiencing it with you. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great pictures as usual. Makes me feel their disappointment. I know they got silver but... Happy for the Canadians. I must admit I always watch Good Morning America but I was switching back and forth and realized the Today show had great coverage for the Olympics, all week. Loved these pictures of the cast and the athletes. I did see the show this AM, did not see you but I have my camera ready and did practice taking pictures of Canadian team on TV. Thanks for this view of the Olympics. You must be having just the best time there, despite the food.

Debbie Lawrence said...

Jeff, you gett a gold medal for your photography and blogging! Thanks for taking us with you to the Olympics. Debbie

Sullivan J Photography said...

Wow! These are amazing! I really have enjoyed your Olympic posts!

Jeff said...

Thank you for taking us behind the scenes for an "up close and personal" look!

Andy Ihnatko said...

The arranged Al Roker photobomb inspires me to ask: have you ever been in a situation where you're getting a specific group photo and SOMEone incorrectly thinks they're part of the group? How would you handle that? It must take delicate diplomacy to say "Yes, fine, I know you THINK I want a group photo of every living NASA moon walker AND the regional distributor of Melman Disc Brakes, but I assure you this is not the case..."