Video: ‘One Shot’ shows what it takes to capture an iconic image at the Olympic games



A thread on Reddit has brought a neat photography documentary from 2017 to our attention. ‘One Shot: Photographing the Olympic Games’ is a behind the scenes look at how photographers capture the iconic images of the Olympics, including a special focus on photographers setting up to capture the 100m men’s final in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 summer games.

Featured photographers include multi-awarded photographers such as Lucy Nicholson, Dave Burnett, Bob Martin, Tim de Waele, and Tsuyoshi Matsumoto. Nicholson had a very specific image in mind for the 100m men’s final in Rio. As she sets up her gear, nine hours ahead of the starting gun kicking off what is one of the most exciting 10 seconds in sports, Nicholson talks about how she wants a tight shot of the winner with other sprinters on either side of the winner. ‘You only get one chance to take the key shot,’ Nicholson says.

A chart showing Sports Illustrated’s plans for photographing the 100m men’s final in Rio. Click to enlarge.

The documentary, seen below, was awarded the Candido Cannavo Award at the World Final of the Milan Sport Film Festival in 2018. About 150 iconic images from nearly 100 different photographers over the last 50 years of Olympic games are featured. An iconic image tells a story for years to come. Long after the medals have been awarded to the victors, and even long after the photographer has passed, the images and the stories they tell remain. Presenter Jonathan Edwards, Olympic gold medalist triple jumper, says it well, ‘A story that’s taken a lifetime to create, told in one shot. One freeze frame.’

Years of planning are required to create iconic images, and in under a minute, an iconic photo can be sent halfway around the globe. The technology on display in 2016 during the summer games was incredible. Reuters was able to get the first photo of Usain Bolt winning the 100m men’s final out to its customers in 58 seconds. It’s safe to assume that the technology will have advanced even further when photographers head to Tokyo in 2021. And while the equipment and tools photographers use continue to evolve, photography’s importance when telling a story remains unchanged.

‘One Shot’ was directed and written by Peter Davies and presented by Jonathan Edwards. As pointed out by PetaPixel, the documentary can also be viewed on the Olympic Channel. It’s hosted on YouTube by Anthony Edgar, the Head of Media Operations for the International Olympic Committee. Edgar also appears in the video. His channel, linked above, includes a lot of interesting Olympics-related video content.


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