I Catch the Olympics With My Polaroid. Until the Camera Freezes.


Just 37.04 seconds. it took this long Erin Jackson The United States will compete for the gold medal in the women’s 500m speed skating. This is also the time each photographer should capture their own glory.

Most Olympics are about speed, sacrifice and emotion. Photographing games can also take a lot of time sometimes.

No article I read or television I watched could do justice to witnessing the action on the ground. My heart was pounding as the cross-country skiers collapsed at the finish line. Jialin Bayani, a Chinese cross-country skier, untied her tired teammate Dinigeer Yilamujiang after a race. A Swedish skier puts his hands on the collapsed back of USA’s JC Schoonmaker. These little gestures brought me to tears. Minutes later, I filed the photos with fingertips numbed by the freezing cold and wind. Later that night, my lens froze.

The first Friday of the competition was a big news day. Shaun White He announced that this would be his last Olympics.

On White’s third and final run, I waited for the half-pipe to come out when I heard that awful scraping sound. He fell. A few seconds later, his helmet glided through the air to the finish, and history was made. The career of a sports legend was coming to an end, and the halfpipe would receive a new master, gold medalist Japanese Ayumu Hirano.

I pulled out my Polaroid SX-70 shoulder to shoulder with my colleague Chang Lee as White collapsed to the ground and cried. Even though my digital camera lets me shoot at 30 frames per second, I sometimes turn to my Polaroid to slow down and enjoy the unpredictability of its film. I had four frames left on my Polaroid, so I waited and shot two.

Athletes are the stars of the Olympics, but behind the scenes, thousands of people are working tirelessly to make it happen. We came out of the main media center one night, stunned by the snow, and saw a team of workers in orange jackets sweeping the snow from the pavement with long dried leaves and sticks. Every time it snowed, these crews would shift gears, from disinfecting venues to standing in the cold, sweeping entrances and walkways, and shoveling paths.

I also came to appreciate all the behind-the-scenes work at the events. Between the ends in curling, Mark Callan With his water backpack and hose, he quietly dropped pebbles onto the ice sheets. The team he was a part of spent weeks preparing the venue, the National Aquatics Center, using humidifiers to prevent ice sheets from breaking apart in the dry Beijing climate.

Teams of Zamboni riders and volunteers, buckets in hand, head to the ice between figure skating routines to repair the skating surface.

One night, as I was running to the media study room at the cross-country skiing area after shooting hundreds of footage, I realized I was barely holding my breath all day. I took out my Polaroid camera again and took a picture. When the movie came out, I watched the chemicals in the movie freeze. The next day, the focus of the camera was frozen in the halfpipe.

When we’re usually given only one opportunity to succeed, when all we have is 37.04 seconds to capture a moment, and somewhere between anxiety and freezing temperatures, we burst into tears, that is, when we pull out a 50-year-old camera. slow, somewhat imperfect, and held together by a few pieces of neon orange tape, it can be the perfect way to breathe and enjoy the magnificent scenery before us.



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