Mitchell Haaseth / NBC Olympics, Getty
We couldn’t be more thrilled that the “Fab Five” USA women’s gymnastics team took the gold this week, and also that today spritely 16-year-old Gabby Douglas won the Gymnastics All Around title. As shutterbugs, we’re also pretty amazed by this time lapse still photograph of Gabby soaring through the air during her winning balance bar routine.
What’s the best shot you’ve seen from the Olympic games so far?
(Just Jared Jr)
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)
(Solstice, via PetaPixel)
Olympics Flame, Vancouver
© VINCENZO PINTO, AFP, Getty Images
The flame is burning bright in Vancouver—despite mishaps.
I admit that I’ve been nuts about the Olympics since I first watched it on TV way too many years ago. Right out of college I had the opportunity to edit a magazine focused on the Olympics. Unfortunately, the publisher had not cleared the name of the magazine with the Olympic Committee. I found this out after I landed in Colorado Springs to interview the entire training team and was told,” fuhgeddaboudit.” That IOC is pretty territorial, right up there with Disney. Don’t tread on their name or logo or else! If this were a branding blog, I’d say there isn’t a better brand out there to protect.
But this year we have many Canadians and others protesting the “corporatization” and cost of the games. But how do you stop the funding for what has become an addiction? A thrilling, agonizing, exciting, sometimes magical addiction, at that? “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat,” as Wide World of Sports used to day.
At Beijing in 2008, sponsors fretted China’s human rights abuses, but that didn’t stop the games. In Vancouver, they’re screaming about trampling on First Nation lands. But several First Nations were right there in the opening ceremonies. That relatively inexperienced luger, Nodar Kumarotashvili, died hours before the opening ceremonies in Vancouver and that didn’t stop the games. In fact, his accident was blamed on his inexperience, and he’s not here to say any different. Officials, however, quickly made changes to the track.
The only thing that has stopped the games is war. The brutal terrorist attack on Israelis in 1972 only temporarily suspended the games. The U.S. boycotted the Moscow games in 1980, but many were upset that careers were ruined because of it, not supportive that we were standing up for a principle. What was that principle, anyway? Oh yeah, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. That went well, eh?
Yes, I’m sick of the insane commercialization, particularly the promos delivered by Bob Costas about Dreamworks latest dumb movie and sticking in so many commercials the broadcast continues til to midnight. But sponsorship can have a good side. Because of Visa’s involvement with the new We Are the World recording benefiting Haiti, an edited version premiered during the opening ceremonies, followed by the full version the next day.
Reviled or revered, the Olympics is one event where the world does come together– even if we try to beat the other guy out of a medal.
Read Bill Plaschke’s columns from the Olympics in the L.A. Times for his eloquent commentary from Vancouver.