XV Pan American Games: A Mixed Bag of Experiences

August 2, 2007 | By DONALD MIRALLE | Creative, Olympics

Here I am in the pool capturing the diving event.

All in all Rio was a mixed bag of experiences, some good and some bad, but always a surprise or challenge around the corner. Getting sick after the first week of non-stop work with a fever, an upper respiratory cold, and some stomach issues didn’t help either. And unfortunately, I had to cut my trip short after I learned my father-in-law was very ill back in the states.

Notwithstanding, I found myself in the middle of some great photo opportunities and experiences at Rio. It was the first time at a major competition that I was allowed in the field of play (the pool) during an actual diving and synchronized swimming competition. I had shot from the water during practice at the Olympics but was never allowed within feet of the athletes during the actual contest. And this amazing photo opp. was mostly due to my incessant badgering of the photo manager at the Aquatics Center, Marco Antonio Rezende, who was a trusting person and a experienced photographer who knows the importance of a different angle. Thank you Marco!

Donald Miralle/Getty Images



Aside from making nice photos, it was just so cool to be sitting at the bottom of the pool with a wide angle lens, watching my unknowing victims swim by like an alligator on the bottom of a lake.

From underwater to aerial views from helicopters, and indoor volleyball with catwalk access for remote photos, to photo boats at the rowing that weren’t nice for photos but rather just a pleasant ride; to dark indoor venues like fencing, weightlifting and boxing that at least had clean backgrounds to deal with, the Pan-Ams in Rio definitely had some opportunities for nice photos and memories.

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Luckily we had great photo managers at venues who would bend with what probably seemed liked odd or difficult picture requests at the time. But more importantly, none of our coverage would have been possible without our dedicated Getty Images photo team: Harry How, Streeter Lecka, Jeff Gross, and Rebecca Butala. And a special shout out to our man from Sao Paulo, Denis Lacerda, who was always there to help either carry camera cases or “my cylinder” (a.k.a. my scuba tank), or would stand still with his hands up in the air for 10 minutes at a time to help focus a remote camera, or even just aid us with getting out of trouble with the locals.

Denis in action – helping me set up the remote on the catwalk.

Thank you, we couldn’t have done it without you Denis!

So another beautiful sun has set on Rio and the Pan-Am games. I’m glad I was a part of it, and if I am lucky and still a photographer in four years, I can work on my Espanol and be in Guadalajara in 2011 for next Pan-Ams. But I will always look back at my Brazilian experience fondly after I hopefully get the theme song out of my head…

Obrigado and Boa Noite!

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  • http://www.marcotogni.it Marco Togni

    I am not your friend but to tell the truth I was very sad when I read that you father-in-law was ill.
    Nice post, but I hope you will write something more technical in next posts.

  • Steve Butala

    The picture of the diver is incredible. If that picture doesn’t get in a major mag or in “this week in pictures” on the web, it would be really sad. Can you include captions below your pics, i.e. who it is and what country?

  • Jakub

    This volleyball shot is practically identical as one of old Dave Black’s photos on his website. Great perspective, but nothing revealing I’m afraid.