The 2022 Olympics in Beijing have concluded, and the Associated Press (AP) photographers look back at the monumental task of creatively capturing the athletes in sub-zero temperatures while in a COVID bubble.
As part of The Shot, a monthly series showcasing the photojournalism of AP staff photographers, the news agency has shared multiple photos captured by a large number of photojournalists who were tasked with capturing the Olympics this year. Below are 10 of these photos and thoughts by their photographers. More can be found on the AP’s blog.
“Before going to the Olympics, I tried not to get too excited. I needed to test negative for COVID twice, in a country where almost everyone was getting the virus,” Natacha Pisarenko says. “This picture represents the fact that I made it. After all the stress, tests, and paperwork, there I was, covering the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.”
“COVID rules that kept us segregated from the public and the extreme cold made it hard to connect to China and its people,” Alessandra Tarantino says. “Arriving at the cross-country event in Zhangjiakou, we were greeted by this smiling volunteer, but her smile was hidden behind a plastic shield and ice. Kind and helpful despite the challenges, she deserved to have her smile frozen in a shot.”
“I was assigned to cover the Winter Olympics this year as an editor for cross-country skiing, but I do carry cameras in case I need to help with coverage. And there are always opportunities to look for pictures between the competitive events,” John Locher says.
“Here, I was setting up my computer in the press center when I noticed the warm crepuscular light in the evening sky through the window. I scrambled to gather my cameras before it faded into night. It was quiet on the course, but thankfully a few skiers were out during an unofficial training session. A slow shutter speed blurred the sky and course as I panned my camera with a lone skier from the Russian Olympic Committee.”
“My team and I had been assigned to ski jumping, but we went over to snowboard to help out our colleagues on the day of Shaun White’s last run,” Frank Franklin says. “We were happy to be a force multiplier. I had never photographed snowboarding before, and this photo is really the result of great teamwork and flexible planning.”
“It was freezing and snowing heavily one evening during training before the women’s aerials qualification. Stationed just after the ramps athletes use to take off into the air, we quickly became covered in snow,” Francisco Seco recalls. “But we stayed because we were making really nice photos. This skier looks like she’s flying through a universe full of stars.”
“I was covering ski jumping trials on one of the coldest and snowiest evenings. Dawid Kubacki of Poland was concentrating on breathing before the jump,” Andrew Medichini says. “The vapor of his breath conveyed just how freezing it was (around -20 Celsius).”
“We knew that American Brittany Bowe had given her spot in the 500-meter long track speed skating race to her teammate, Erin Jackson, after the No. 1 ranked Jackson stumbled in the Olympic trials. Sure enough, Bowe’s sacrifice was justified when Jackson won gold for the U.S.,” Ashley Landis says.
“The emotional moment in this photo sums up the roller coaster journey Jackson and her team endured to end up on top of the podium.”
“Curling can get repetitive when you are covering 32 people at the same time for weeks. So I slowed down and started looking for details,” Brynn Anderson says regarding the photo above.
“I found tattoos of Olympic rings, curling earrings, and more small details that revealed big personalities. When Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa ran her hands through her hair, I saw a message she’d written on her hand: ‘I’m a good curler. I have confidence. Let’s have fun!’ Even an Olympic athlete needs words of affirmation.”
“This never would have been possible with cameras of the past: With a shutter speed of 1/32000 of a second and a frame rate of 30 frames per second, plus a bit of luck, we can now see the bullet flying out of a biathlete’s rifle, catching the moment of highest concentration of the athlete,” Frank Augstein says.
“After days of intense drama over Russian Olympic Committee skater Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old finally took to the ice to perform her short program,” David J. Phillip says. “I set my 135mm f/1.8 lens to wide open to help separate the subject from the background. She jumped in a perfect spot to capture a dramatic moment.”
Many other photos and the stories behind them can be found on the AP’s full retrospective on the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Image credits: Header photos by Francisco Seco and Frank Augstein. All other photos individually credited and provided courtesy of the Associated Press.