Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lessons learned from the Olympics

It has now been more than a week since I have returned home from the Olympics in Vancouver and, as you might expect, I have had countless people ask me about the experience. The most common question that I get is, "Did you have fun?" in which I answer, "Yes, but it was also one of the most exhausting experiences that I have ever encountered".

It is now 3:45am in California and I have still not had a solid night of sleep in a month. Lots of things going through that little brain of mine. Things that either keep me from falling asleep or wake me up in the middle of the night. For some reason, this morning I woke up thinking about the lessons learned at the Olympics, and what I would do differently next time.

Lesson 1: Probably the most surprising thing about photographing the games, was the immediacy in which the photographers post their images. As you blog readers know, most of the time I was trying to edit the same day or the morning after each event. This is pretty much unheard of with event photography. I mean...who in the right mind expects you to shoot a wedding or Bar Mitzvah and have all the best images edited by the next morning, right? the Olympics, the big agencies have Ethernet lines run right to the photographer so that they can shoot, edit and post their best shots within minutes of the moment captured. This means that Ethernet cables were run to their seats at the hockey games, along the snow to their shooting positions at the half pipe event, and even up the slopes for the downhill events. Amazing! Shawn White would make his first run down the half pipe and minutes later, the USA Today would have an image ready to post online.

This cracked up the pressure on me. At the beginning of the Olympics, I would travel on the press buses with all my camera gear, but I would not bring my laptop, since it would add even more weight to my already heavy load. But, by the middle of the games, I realized that I HAD to have my laptop because 45 minutes on the press bus was 45 minutes of editing time lost. This was obvious to me when I saw everybody else cranking out images (using their cellular cards from their laptops) from the bus.

Lesson 2: I learned is that I need to edit less. That means that I need to go through the thousands of images and find the best 5 or 6 and get them done quickly. Typically I would pick 30 or 40 to edit. Too many!

Lesson 3: Don't over edit! I am really picky about my shots and want to make sure that they are perfect. I found out that, at the Olympics, there is no time for perfection. I need to get it done well and get it posted and not worry about the minutia.

Lesson 4: Be more careful when picking my top images. Since I was in such a hurry to get images selected, edits and uploaded, I sometimes missed key images. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed that I had actually captured a key moment in the first USA vs Canada hockey game. On the image below, I had an image of Kessler's amazing empty net goal, with the puck just coming off of his stick. I had edited the image before this one, that frankly was not quite as sharp and without the puck in the shot. It sure helps to have a 30" display to see these details (vs that tiny 15" display on the laptop)

I also skipped the key shot from the opening ceremonies, which was the snowboarder jumping through the hoops at the very beginning of the event. I knew that I liked, but since it needed a little more editing than the rest, I put it aside (and never went back to it until earlier this week - Ooops).
Lesson 5: Shut down the brain and try to sleep more. I am not sure if this is possible, but I think that next time I would rely more on Melatonin or some other sleep aid to try and sleep better. Speaking of which, now I am going to try and get back to sleep for a little bit before the work day starts. Good morning everyone!


Ansel Adams said...

that is an amazing picture - it was fun to watch from a distance. thank you for all of your insights and breaking down the third wall to show what it was like to be there. excellent work!

ellen said...

Wow!! amazing shots! I live in Vancouver,but tickets were a little too pricey for me. So it is great to see your pictures! Hope you liked the olympics here. It was amazing to have all the different countries here!

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