Posted in Behind the News

A snapshot of Olympics photography

, by Lauren Easton

Deputy Director of Photography Denis Paquin has covered a total of 17 Olympics since working his first games at Lake Placid in 1980.

He shared his perspective on Olympics photography and the competitive drive when he arrived in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Games.

Deputy Director of Photography Denis Paquin at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

How has coverage of the Olympics changed over the years?

The most dramatic changes I’ve seen over the years have been in the technology. In Lake Placid, a messenger couriered film back to the main press center for processing, editing and printing. At eight minutes per black and white photo transmission, a maximum 180 photos could be delivered each day to subscribers. At our last Summer Olympics in London, we shot more than 1 million photos – eight terabytes of data – and transmitted an average of 2,000 a day around the world. In Rio, we are moving an average of 3,500 photos a day.

What is AP’s photo setup in Rio like?

In Rio, we have 56,000 feet of cabling throughout 35 venues. Every camera is tethered, and an editor can select and send an image to our network within minutes of the photo being shot. Robotic cameras allow us to capture images from angles only dreamed of in the past – even underwater. Eleven robotic cameras and another 16 remote cameras can be controlled with a joystick from anywhere on our network.

The United States' Laurie Hernandez performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's team final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

What are some of the ongoing challenges?

Covering Olympics always requires patience. Even a few weeks before the opening ceremony there are a lot of unknowns, whether it be transportation that’s not up and running, inexperienced venue managers, security. But it remains one of the most competitive major events in the world, with every international agency bringing their best photographers and editors to showcase their images to clients around the world. It’s deeply satisfying to see how well and creatively our staff illustrates the beauty of every location and the athletes in action.

Stay up to date on AP’s Olympics coverage here. Explore AP’s photos from Rio here.