Men’s 100m: With a sec to snap, photographers separate from pack

August 6, 2012 | By Alison Crombie | Olympics, Photography, Photojournalism, Sport

Our Olympic photographers work hard to make sure you don’t miss any of the iconic moments of the Men’s 100m — which isn’t easy, considering the race only lasts about 10 seconds. With 14 of our best photographers at the event, along with remote cameras strategically placed around the stadium, here’s the scoop from Getty Images photographer Michael Steele, who was there to capture the amazing Usain Bolt.

How do you prepare for the 100m? Do you have to know the sport well?

We find out how many of us are going to the event beforehand, and we then decide on the positions we want to be in — who will be located where and at what point during the event.  Everyone has a role in their area, so for example, Adam Pretty had a great  view from behind, and Quinn Rooney had a head-on position from up high, which all helps us to get different angles of the race.


Usain Bolt of Jamaica races ahead of Ryan Bailey of the United States, Yohan Blake of Jamaica, Justin Gatlin of the United States and Tyson Gay of the United States to win the Men's 100m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

How to you manage to capture such a fast-moving sport? What are the challenges?

You’re often looking or waiting for something to happen – if the race is tight, we have to get the shot of them on the finish line with their heads dipping forward, that captures the closeness of the race. If I am in a position where I am looking down from above, onto the finish line, you can see who won more easily with better perspective.  In the 100m, with the race taking 10 seconds, I had 2 seconds to get the image, from when they reached the 80m mark – so the pressure is on to get the shot!!


With so many photographers shooting the same event, how do you make your images stand out?

We get amazing access and have a large team of photographers to cover the race from different angles, and therefore we document it in a completely different way. I often like the shots that are from unusual spots and these creative images always work well.


How big is the temptation to only focus on Bolt? How much did he dominate what you shot?

I thought he would win, but you’re always hoping that the lane draw means the main people will all be next to each other! In yesterday’s race, luckily they were all next to each other, which makes it easier to shoot.


How did you capture this image, of Usain Bolt?

I was operating my own camera on a 70-200 lens and I was on the line and zoomed my camera out. I wasn’t 100% sure Bolt had won, but I like this shot as it showed him showing he’s still the boss with his hand gesticulation.


Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning gold in the Men’s 100m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)


Editor’s note: Michael Steele is a Getty Images photographer who specializes in athletics. To see more of his breathtaking work capturing everything from mountain bikers to cricket players, click here.

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