White Bread and Meat Flavored Chips

July 20, 2011 | By Ezra Shaw | Olympics, Sport

The fog was so thick when I left my home in San Francisco that I couldn’t see the Golden Gate Bridge as I was driving over it. When I arrived in Shanghai 13 hours later, the smog was so thick that I felt like I was back at home. It was my first time back in China since the Beijing Olympics, and this time I was here to cover the FINA World Swimming Championships.  I wasn’t really looking forward to the hot and humid summer days of China, but was I looking forward to working with the Getty Images team. We were sending 10 people total to the Championships – 6 photographers including myself, plus three editors and one IT guy.

We started working the morning after I arrived. The start of competition was still a day away, but we headed over to the venue to pick up our passes and check out the different stadiums. In true Chinese style, they had built an entire new complex called the Oriental Sports Center that consisted of three different stadiums, one for swimming and synchronized swimming, one for water polo, and the final stadium for diving. After checking out the different venues and taking a few pictures, we heading out to a great dinner on a rooftop overlooking the entire Shanghai skyline.

At that point, I didn’t realize that dinner might be the last good food that I would eat the entire time I was in China. The food at the venue definitely isn’t what we have come to expect in the States when you go to a sporting event. The competition started the next day and the food at the concession stands was very limited. The first thing that I decided to get was a bag of chips – little did I know that the flavor of the chips was actually “Italian Red Meat Flavor.”

Knowing that wouldn’t hold me over for the entire day, I tried to find something else that to eat. I went back to the food stand and thought I was buying a sandwich, but when I opened up the package of white bread, that was actually just what it was – two slices of white bread and nothing else.

The first event that I was scheduled to shoot was diving, which usually always makes for some cool pictures. I had already gotten one picture during preview day that I was happy with, so I was looking forward to going back to see if I could get any other nice pictures.

In the morning, there was actually some sun breaking through the smog, which made for some cool silhouettes of the divers against the blue pool.

During the afternoon, I helped Quinn Rooney, one of Australian photographers, put in an underwater remote at the water polo venue. It was nice to jump in the pool and cool down. Unfortunately, after spending an hour waiting to get clearance to put the camera in, and then another hour installing the camera, Quinn showed up this morning to find that his camera was moved and that the organizing committee wouldn’t let him back in the pool to fix the camera.

On day two I was scheduled for synchronized swimming. Forgive me if you are a big synchronized swimming fan, but the first event that I had to photograph was solo synchronized swimming. I didn’t quite understand how you could have solo synchronized swimming, especially if the definition of synchronized is “to cause to go on, move, operate, work, etc., at the same rate and exactly together.”  As all 33 athletes competed in the solo routines, I tried to work different angles and shutter speeds to try get some interesting pictures.

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  • H2O

    It’s funny to me that people don’t understand how the solo routine can be synchronized swimming. In solo, it’s synchronized to the *music*. Why does this not dawn on people?