Jeff Cable Describes What it Takes to Keep Up with Insane Sochi Photo Deadlines


Want to know what it takes to photograph the Olympic Games these days? Well, according to Jeff Cable it takes the kind of speed that most photographers can only dream of, because when it comes to the Internet age, people want their photos and they want them NOW.

In a fascinating post on his blog, Cable explains just how much things have changed over the past few years and offers you his workflow as an example of how to keep up.

When I first shot the Olympics, my contract allowed me 12 hours to go through the photos and get them back to the team. When I photographed the Summer Olympics in London, my deadline was shortened to 2 hours…

Now, with the ever-increasing immediacy of the Internet age, they want me posting images at each break. So that means that, when the buzzer sounds at the end of the first period of hockey, I have 14 minutes to download my photos (I shoot full RAW), go through them, edit, resize them and upload to Team USA. And I need to do this so that I am ready to start shooting again at the start of the next period. No pressure!


Yeah, no pressure right? So how does Cable achieve these feats of inhuman speed? By using the best equipment around. Only the fastest memory cards, fastest card readers and fastest computers will do… because a few seconds slower might mean the difference between getting that crucial shot and missing it because you’re still getting ready for the period that just started.

Cable elaborates on exactly what equipment he uses and even breaks down his workflow point by point for you over on his blog, so don’t miss the opportunity to go and read that. And once you do, you’ll have to let us know what your answer is to his closing question… “Now, after reading that, how many of you still want to try this? :)”

Crazy fast deadlines and workflow [Jeff Cable Photography]

Image credits: Photographs by Jeff Cable and used with permission

  • Marc St.Onge

    So much for “f/8 and be there”…

  • Ilkka

    I would shoot jpegs and just delete bad ones and send the rest. The lighting in a stadium is pretty stable, proper white balancing should handle that.

  • p.rock

    Odd. I’d think he’d be shooting JPEG and using wireless transfer, or at least shooting tethered. Thought that was pretty standard protocol for Olympic photogs.

  • dan110024

    I guess if it’s working for him, shooting raw, then why not? Sounds like he’s got it sorted.

  • Keith D

    “Only the fastest computers will do”…and he uses a Mac?

  • csmif


  • Atlanta Owner

    Hey, they come standard with 4 whole gigs of RAM – they FLYYYYYYY, man… they flyyyyyyyyy. ;-)

  • jmills74

    slacker. Getty is getting shots on the web in less than 150 seconds after the shutter is pressed

  • whyumaddoe

    ur joking right…macs are as fast or if not faster than pc’s now and integrate seamlessly for photography…its 2014 youre behind mentally

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    Well not if he bought them at the default configurations. That’s what he probably meant.

  • Guy Murch

    So the human element is just getting in the way now?
    I hear the point people are making about “Only the fastest computers will do…”. It’s been a while since Apple can claim that they are the fastest, but I believe (IMO) that they are the most consistent. You can depend on the machine.

  • Martin Nilsson

    Well, and this is coming from a complete amateur, isn’t there a better way to do it? I’m thinking either shooting everything in RAW+JPEG or switching back and forth between RAW and JPEG. Try to add rating to the files in camera in the short breaks that occur,

    After the game, dump files, check that the 5-stars are 5-stars and send (or quickly check your JPEGs). Sure, it’s not the best of the best but should work for quick and easy internet publishing. Awesome shots from edited RAW-files can be submitted later, for prints in magazines and of course high-res samples on-line.

    But still – I’m mighty impressed with his work flow. It is a tough way to go, but he does it. So kudos to him!

  • Guy Murch

    Martin, I think you’ll find that the quick turn around for the photo’s is being imposed on him. Not his decision.
    Rating each photo? He’s miss opportunities that are happening in front of him if he’s having to rate every photo.
    Quote: Now, with the ever-increasing immediacy of the Internet age, they want
    me posting images at each break. So that means that, when the buzzer
    sounds at the end of the first period of hockey, I have 14 minutes to
    download my photos (I shoot full RAW), go through them, edit, resize
    them and upload to Team USA. And I need to do this so that I am ready to
    start shooting again at the start of the next period. No pressure!

  • Martin Nilsson

    No I get it’s not his decision. And as I said, I’m a complete amateur. Just figured that if you shoot JPEG, check your pic (which I assume even these guys do) and quickly (not sure if the camera allows it) give it a rating. You would when the bell rings, already have your shots done and selected. So, crop and send. Gives you 12 minutes to drink coffee ;-)

  • Leamos

    you etter buy a fuji xt1

  • Snarkasaurus

    Newsflash: they use the same hardware. “Faster” is subjective, based on the hardware inside. However, dollar for dollar you’re going to get better/faster hardware in a PC than you will in a Mac.

    Also, “integrate seamlessly for photography”? WTF does that even mean? Sounds like you’re talking out your ass…

  • Eif

    if you think about laptop, sure, if you’re talking about desktop computers … then I have bad news for you

  • iowapipe

    From recent reading, it seems if you are affiliated with a large agency (like AP , Getty, and others) you get that benefit. When you are freelancing like he is, there is no backend coverage supplied by a company. According to his blog, he is directly contracted with the U.S. Hockey team for instance.

  • iowapipe

    If you haven’t already, go check out Jeff’s blog. He has been posting daily updates so far and through them all you get a pretty good idea of how he does his work.

  • David

    How about hiring an assistant ?! Low budget ?

  • harumph

    But you’re comparing price, which is something entirely different than comparing speed. I’m sure that the photographer wouldn’t be processing photos on a laptop if he had the choice, but if I had to do it, I’d do it on a Mac. Particularly if I were using Lightroom, which lags like crazy on my PC, but runs with zero lag on my allegedly inferior Mac.

  • Scott

    They also have other people doing the selecting, cropping and editing :)

  • kandy830

    my Aunty Amelia got a new blue Land Rover LR4 only from
    working part time off a home computer… helpful hints F­i­s­c­a­l­M­a­z­e­.­ℂ­o­m

  • David Drufke

    This is pretty normal for all sports photography, not just the Olympics. I’ve had to submit photos between periods now for a few years.

  • David Drufke

    You’ll likely still want to crop.

  • whyumaddoe

    i take it youre not a photographer

  • whyumaddoe

    ew desktop pc’s are gross

  • Keith D

    I am just saying that there are many companies that allow you faster configurations than what Apple offers and that are just as dependable. And when it comes to a desktop, you will get a much faster configuration for the same price as a Mac if you go to an independent computer guy. There is also a good chance that most people now know at least one friend that knows how to build computers and will do it for the cost of parts.

    I am not saying Apple is bad in anyway, but they do not offer the fastest computers. And I won’t comment on price.

  • kondex


    integrate seamlessly for photography

    you made my day

    same software exists for pc and mac
    mac is overpriced and not keeping up with newest pc’s

    so it is you who is behind mentally

  • kondex

    who buys computer to look good… you are pathetic Apple fanboy

  • Richard Ford

    People are watching/care about these so called olympics….?

  • Guest


    except software behaves smoother on mac

    youre probably not even a real photographer, it is you who’s behind :) keep eating your mcdonalds because its cheaper

  • Guest

    yeah cool if you want mcdonalds go get mcdonalds lol

  • Guest

    microsuck winblows ;)

  • Snarkasaurus

    I’m not a photographer because I don’t understand your made-up term of “integrate seamlessly for photography”? Integrate with WHAT? You stick an SD card into a Mac or PC and it’ll launch Lightroom and import your photos. Same deal on both systems. Neither “integrate” better than the other. You’re just saying words you think sound smart and techie.

  • Notabene

    Please note that Cable works for Lexar.

  • Kyle Clements

    Macs do seem to integrate pretty well, actually.
    For example, NEF files have thumbnail icons in the browser window by default.
    NEF Thumbnails don’t work by default on any of the Linux machines I’ve ever used.