Photographer Joe Klamar has become the target of much scrutiny—and in some cases, ire—ever since the series of portraits he shot of U.S. Olympic team athletes was published by CBS News. The criticism is that the photographs fall short: they’re underwhelming both visually and from a technical point of view, especially when you consider that the occasion they represent (the Olympic Games!) has likely been a lifelong dream for these athletes. Not that you can tell from these awkwardly lit and posed shots. Also, note the torn seamless paper.
Much of the aforementioned ire, as PetaPixel points out, comes from other photographers, who not surprisingly believe they could have produced better portraits. In Klamar’s defense, he’s not well-known for his portrait work but rather for taking action shots, and he shot this entire series during a likely hectic and rushed session at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit in Dallas last month. But as his critics have already expressed—and I tend to agree—no professional photographer, no matter his or her background, would feel comfortable publishing this quality of work. And, well, the biggest complaint against him is that no professional photographer worth his or her salt would even produce this kind of work.
What do you think? Are we all being too hard on Klamar, or are these photos truly sub-par? Is there an impossibly high expectation when it comes to capturing the essence of world class Olympic athletes, or are these just run of the mill poorly executed shots? See the whole CBS News gallery of Klamar’s photographs here.
(photos: Joe Klamar)