Doug Pensinger is a photographer for Getty Image and enjoys privileged access to shoot the best moments of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. While this is a privilege, it is also a great deal of professional pressure – every day you must bring back sensational pictures and immediately send them to the agency to be sold. This American photographer, and true sports fan, tells us the story of his “gold” picture.
“Alpine ski racing photography is unlike any other sporting event as each race course is unique, while other fields of play are a fixed size and shape, and the action is obvious. It takes days of scouting and investigating the course to find the perfect spot where the skier’s actions are dynamic, the background of the photo is clean and the light is right. That said, the poor weather and course conditions that cancelled the athlete training several times in the past week also prevented photographers from adequately previewing the course.
The normal race program requires photographers to choose their position and be in place one hour before the start of the race for approval. On Monday (Feb 15), I had entered the course at 730 am three hours before the start of the race, giving me two hours to find a spot. While the primary focus is finding the visually perfect shot, the challenges are having to slalom around the world class athletes as they inspect the course while skiing (slip sliding) the tilted sheet of ice that is the Olympic Downhill course. And, on top of this, I’m navigating through with the burden of a 40lb backpack stuffed with camera gear, crampons, extra weather gear, etc.
For this event, the race course management made a last minute change to freeze the course to give the athletes some training time at speed on the lower section of the course. Unfortunately, this last minute change now altered my course position and I had to settle for a less than ideal spot that had many unknowns.
From this position, it was a ‘blind’ shot as the skier pops over the horizon with no warning, forcing me to focus and compose in a fraction of a second as they fly through the frame at 70mph. The next challenge was that the background was only going to be good if the skier peaked at the right moment, like Bode Miller did during his run. Everything came together under less than ideal circumstances, and this image of Bode Miller was my gold medal shot even if he came in third”.”
This interview came from the Getty Images and lesphotographes.com partnership.
Go to Doug Pensinger Website
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