Realizations: 2016 Retrospective

The sun sets over Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

I didn’t imagine one of my final moments of 2016 would entail being mocked by a jar of gummy bears. Alas, here I am, hole up in a hotel room in downtown Atlanta (on the road once more lighting R&B singer Anthony Hamilton) where a decidedly tempting mini bar spread has been left for my perusal. Of course, there are the usual confections – Snickers, pretzels, Pringles, and just about every beverage that might quench a thirsty desire. At the forefront, however, is a jar filled to the brim with colorful gummy bears (the jar itself shaped like – what else – a bear). Try as I might, I just cannot justify parting with $7 of my per diem to conquer these viciously flavorful critters, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t tempting.

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Rio 2016: Antique Eye

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Aug 17, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; A BMX demonstration group performs prior to competition at Olympics BMX Centre during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

One of the most challenging aspects of covering a major sporting event for a professional photographer is coming away with images that are unique to you. Back in August, during my coverage of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, things were no different. I often found myself in photo positions shoulder to shoulder with 20 or more photographers, most of them shooting on the same digital camera bodies and using the exact same lenses as myself. The result? Everyone walks away with essentially the same photo. For tightly-cropped finish line jubilation or dejection, sometimes being in “the pack” is a necessary evil at the games. To walk away from the experience with something unique, however – something that made me feel that I really tried – being in the pack simply wouldn’t suffice.

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Rio 2016: Digested

01_wrapup_090916Aug 21, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Photographers gather for the medals ceremony following the men’s cross country mountain bike competition during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Mountain Bike Centre.

As with my first Olympics blog from Rio, I’m penning my final one from an aircraft 38,000 feet somewhere over the Caribbean. Admittedly, I’m not returning from Rio on this flight, however, but from a lighting design gig with Anthony Hamilton in Curaçao. You may have heard that I was exhausted following the Olympics, which was true. You may have also heard I have a hard time turning down jobs immediately following the Olympics in exotic locales, which would also be true. Hey, sleep when you’re dead, right?

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Rio 2016: The Full Meal

01_rio_081816Aug 17, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Colombia’s Mariana Pajon during individual seeding in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Olympic BMX Centre.

“Okay riders, random start. Riders ready, watch the gate…” and then silence. Eight BMX riders sit frozen atop their ferrous frames, awaiting the gate holding them back that rests against their front wheels to drop – without warning – flat against the ground. Silence. The crowd, obeying the wishes for “silencio, por favor” from the mighty LED screen, can barely keep themselves together. Silence. Vultures circling over the neighboring favela dot the sky as a torrent of dust rolls across the course, caught in the dry, hot afternoon wind. Silence. The sunlight gleams against the colorful helmets of the riders, still unsullied by the scuffs and scrapes that will undoubtedly come from the painful wipe-outs in the days ahead. Silence. With a startling CRACK, the gate falls and the riders finally rocket down the first drop of the course, with screams and applause of the fans there to cheer them on flooding the arena. The battle is on!

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