Pan-Am Games: Getting something to eat – a sport in itself

July 24, 2007 | By Harry How | Creative

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Here I am up in the rafters at the gymnastics venue which I ended up not liking. Photo by: a photo marshall, Andre Lobo

Word spreads quickly amongst our photographers. Some venues have the potential for pictures, others should simply be avoided like a root canal. Gymnatics, or as we’ve been calling it, gymnasties, is an event no one wanted. Even the most graceful athlete looks clumsy with a background of railings, broadcast equipment, and signage. We make an exception for finals of events, which are always covered.

With my expectations lowered, I arranged to put a remote camera overhead in the rafters for the gymnasties final. I chose to remote the floor exercise as it was a nice blue background and it was the only discipline that both men and women competed on increasing my chances for a picture.

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Harry How/Getty Images

AJ Rayment of Canada competes in the Men’s Vault final during the Artistic Gymnastic on July 17, 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Thirty minutes before the start of the final, I made my way into the upper grandstands when I stumbled upon a fast food stand. Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to eat for at least 8 hrs and having had breakfast 4hrs ago, I quickly made my way to the line for food.

As I got to the front, the server motioned to my 50 reis note I was holding (about $30), pointed to another line to his right and said, “payee”. When I got to the front of my 2nd line, I ordered a bag of Ruffles and a Gatorade, as a hot dog didn’t appeal to me and it was the only other item on the menu. The cashier waggled her finger at me and said “no 50″ meaning no change for 50. I looked through my wallet, and found nothing smaller. Not wanting to go hungry and in frustration, I said “Visa?” she nodded.

Pressed for time, the cashier slowly wrote on two pieces of paper, then handed them to me and by this time I knew I was going back to the other line, my 3rd line. The icing on the cake to my dining experience came when I saw the server pour my Gatorade out of the capped bottle and into a plastic cup, no lid. Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but my hands were already full with a 400mm lens, an 80-200mm and a waist pack of accessories.

Miraculously, I made it to an open seat wolfing down the chips and the Gatorade. From this seat, I noticed a small area that might make for a background from my elevated spot and focused my shooting to this area of the mat for the first discipline, men’s floor exercise. I got lucky as the best picture I made with this background was the eventual gold medalist.

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Harry How/Getty Images - This is the shot I found while eating my chips and Gatorade.

Diego Hypolito of Brazil competes in the Floor Exercise on his way to a gold medal on July 17, 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

With the exception of shooting the medal ceremony from ground level, every discipline I shot was from the upper stands. I went up and down stairs every 3 discipines. My remote didn’t get me the photo I wanted and I didn’t have anything to eat again until 11:30 pm. Making a photo and getting something to eat isn’t the easiest thing to do sometimes.

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