Once I arrived in a snow covered PyeongChang, it was time to head out and explore some of the venues, including Alpine and Cross-country. From being at the Olympics and being shown around the Cross-country venue by Chief Photographer Matthias Hangst I knew how important it was to be prepared for when the competition begins. The alpine was the hardest venue for me. Physically is was very tough, cold and icy which made it challenging to get around and for me one of the hardest photographic situations I have ever been in. Once the competition starts and you see the images you are producing, it is very rewarding. During my time photographing the Paralympics I really had to think about backgrounds, time of day, the competition course layout, giving myself enough time to get to my position, and also the lenses I would need to do the best job.
Having recently been part of the Winter Olympic editing team and viewing all of the incredible images produced there, this was the best preparation for photographing the Paralympics. It instilled the knowledge of what makes a good winter sport photo and how preparation before the competition starts to find the best backgrounds and the best light.
The most fun sport to shoot was the hockey, it’s so quick and trying to follow the puck around the rink was an adrenalin rush. I photographed the Korea v Japan game, which Korea won, resulting in an incredible atmosphere in the stadium – something I’ll never forget.
My favourite photograph from the games is of Mark Arendz of Canada as he reached the top of a hill climb during the biathlon. The day I took this was a tough one for me, but all of this was put into perspective very quickly when I saw athletes skiing up this insanely steep hill. For me this image is representative that the journey isn’t easy but if you want something hard enough you can reach the top. In my photo I wanted to show him just reaching the top against the background of snowy mountains to show the height of the incline, his stance appears gladiatorial which shows the strength it takes to get up there! One thing I have learnt from this experience is that you have to be patient, everything has to come together, and it can take a whole day of competition for it to happen. From the shape the athlete is making, to the colour of what they wear, the light, the background and where they appear at the top of the hill. You can so easily take a couple of frames and think it looks good and move on, but I knew this was an image I wanted to get right so I stayed there the whole competition. I was happy it all came together, and the Getty Images Sport Instagram shared it as well, which was so rewarding.
There was so many great moments and I have learnt so much from our team of photographers – it was an experience I will remember for a very long time.
One thing I noticed instantly was how much I’ve learned from editing for POCOG during the Olympics. We were watching images from the Getty Images feed constantly and because of that I got the perfect lesson in what makes a perfect picture. When we got out to shoot ourselves during the Paras, I had all these images in my head and therefore knew what I was looking for. There are specific positions you can shoot from but I didn’t find this restrictive and surprisingly found there was a lot more freedom compared to a football match. When shooting football, you arrive at the stadium and there are four different corners with very similar backgrounds. At the Paralympics, we could walk the course at cross-country which was 2 kilometres and be overwhelmed with all the options! It was a truly great experience.
Naomi and Linnea have kindly shared with us their 10 top images they took in PyeongChang which can be seen here: