Olympic Photographers Face 14 Minute Deadlines
“When I first shot the Olympics, my contract allowed me 12 hours to go through the photos and get them back to the team. When I photographed the Summer Olympics in London, my deadline was shortened to 2 hours. . . Now, with the ever increasing immediacy of the Internet age, they want me posting images at each break. So that means when the buzzer sounds at the end of the first period of hockey, I have 14 minutes to download my photos, go through them, edit, re-size them and upload to Team USA.”
You heard right! Olympic photographer deadlines have been getting shorter and shorter and now there is almost NO time to make mistakes. With a 14 minute deadline, you need to have the perfect workflow technique to get things done. I mean, I spend that much time figuring out which filter to use on Instagram and how to tag it (jokes, it actually only takes like 10). It is crazy to see how quickly the Olympic photography scene seems to be changing.
On photographer Jeff Cable’s blog, he talks about his current workflow for the Sochi Olympics and the gear needed to make it happen. “I am using the fastest memory cards, fastest card readers, and fastest computer I can get. All of these pieces are critical in my workflow.” The last thing he needs is Photoshop freezing for a few seconds then closing out. He also has to worry about how fast his data transfers to the computer by getting top of the line cards and card readers.
Jeff uses the new Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash cards tag teamed with his Canon 1DX cameras. His card reader is the newer Lexard Professional USB 3.0 reader and he runs that into his MacBook Pro Retina. In terms of software, he uses Photo Mechanic which he says most of the photographers at the games use because it allows for him to caption and FTP files from one program. Photo Mechanic is known for its speed and reliability of viewing pictures which makes it the perfect program to have on the spot.
The best part of Jeff’s blog was he broke down his actual routine and workflow. Here is what he does:
- At the buzzer, I eject the Lexar memory card and put it into the USB 3.0 reader
- Photo Mechanic comes up asking for a folder name to download to and asks for IPTC info.
- I have already created a folder with the appropriate name (usually something like “20140212_Hockey_USA_vs_Canada_Women”)
- I enter the IPTC data (something like “USA vs Canada (Women) Hockey”
- I start reviewing the photos as they are downloading, and try to find the best of the bunch
- I mark the best with a color rating, so that I can filter for just those.
- I go through all the photos from that period and then filter to show only the winners.
- I quickly go into Photoshop to tweak each of the best (exposure, contrast, crop…) and save the file appended with “Edit_”
- After I have done this to the best, I need to caption them with the names of the athletes. For this I have created a document called a replacement code file with every player on Team USA, men and women. I can type in “/26w/” and Photo Mechanic will insert “USA Hockey’s KENDALL COYNE (#26)”
- Before sending the photos off to the team or the wire service, I have a preset in Photo Mechanic to resize the photo, and all the FTP info is pre-stored. One touch of the button and off they go.
- I then eject the card from the reader, pop it back in the camera and start shooting the next period.
The hardest part Jeff says is finding time to blog, which he managed to do quite well actually.
What do you think about the deadlines Olympic photographers face? Do you ever find yourself in the same position?
If you want to see how Sports Illustrated photographers cover high profile American Football games, the situation is pretty similar. Make sure you check out our Fstoppers Original “Behind The Scenes With Sports Illustrated.”
[images and info via Jeff Cable Photography]