Been in China for a week now and am finally acclimated to the busy schedule as well as the culture shock. Now that Im as settled in as I’m gonna get I have no excuses not to perform at my best with the images I’m shooting. Just like the best athletes in the world are here it is basically similar with photographers as I find myself shooting alongside the best sports photogs in the world. Just knowing that is motivation enough to give it my all.


The day started off with shooting men’s gymnastics. Since gymnastics is my primary focus while here I am trying to approach each day there by shooting at a different location so that I can find the perfect angles I want to use when it comes time for the finals.

It is a huge zoo of photographers and I honestly feel I may see a fight between shooters as we all try and co-exist with each other…….if it happens I plan to shoot it!

So coming into the Olympics I had an idea of busting out a star filter to add a unique element to my photos. The problem is so did some of the Getty photographers, obviously I can’t compete with their access and gear arsenal so this was the best I could do with my meager budget and access.


Definitely one of my favorite photos of the day came by pure accident as I photographed one of the competition officials appearing to be asleep during a pommel horse performance. In all fairness she wasn’t asleep as she was mearly caught in mid blink.

After men’s gymnastics it was back to the main press center to edit and trasmit before heading across the street to the Fencing Hall for a women’s semi final and final event.

Fencing is one of those sports that is impossible not to get cool photos at. When you have athletes wearing all white and dueling with a black background you really can’t screw it up.


The access was surprisingly stellar for the event and allowed us to move all over. I did my best to try and shoot multiple angles with multiple lenses from each match to attempt and give the appearance of multiple photographers covering the match. Far too often photographers (myself included) get lazy and do the bare minimum to get the job done. The Olympics is not the place for that mentality.

One funny thing I noticed in the women’s competition was that when both girls struck eachother at the same time both their lights would come on and the judge would have to decide who hit who first so he could award the point accordingly. Nearly everytime both girls hit eachother around the same time they would both scream in jubulation even if they knew they weren’t first in an attempt to sway the judges ruling. I had to laugh at how they screamed each time but it did make for interesting photos.

A wide photo with pitch black certainly doesn’t provide you with a telling overall image of the event but it still produced an interesting look.

While walking from on side of the floor to the other I noticed a jumbotron that lined up perfectly with the match floor and didn’t flicker if you shot at a higher shutter speed as most do. I wasn’t sure we were allowed to shoot there as it was not market as a photo area so I waited for the first person to stand there and shoot before I moved there. After I got there then another person soon followed and within minutes we had 7 or 8 shooters there firing off shots.

The arena was packed with Chinese fans and I am not sure if they knew what the hell fencing was and the rules about it (I sure didn’t) but they seemed to really enjoy the matches as well as the Olympic atmosphere.

While waiting to shoot the medal ceremony I noticed 3 of the flower presenters peeking through the windows in a door to catch the action. It was a nice little moment I thought.

The United States went on to sweep the podium to earn their first, as well as second and third medals of the Olympics. Im guessing for that reason there were a lot of photogs who ended up showing up just before the finals.

Following the medal ceremony pandemonium ensued when former president George H.W. Bush showed up to greet the USA’s first medal winners.

Now I have shot nearly every major sporting event but the scrum of photographers when he greeted the medalists was unlike anything I’ve ever shot. It was crazy, exciting and a bit scary as a good 30 photographers tried squeezing close with their wide lenses for the important shot.

I was getting pushed all around during the scrum and lost my good shooting spot to some overzealous photographers and had to resort to a hail mary or should I say several hail marys. Most the shots were worthless because I didn’t have my widest lens on but I came away with a decent shot.




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Posted in China, Olympics, Sports   | 19 Comments

19 responses to “Getting into my Olympic Groove”

  1. Kase says:

    Dude… good stuff man, I’ve got to say your writing is the most ineresting of all the blogs I’mre reading from shooters there, you’ve got a one up on that one, but as far as fencing goes Laforet wiped your ass with this photo at fencing: http://www.blog.newsweek.com/blog3s/olympicpix/archive/2008/08/09/picture-of-the-day-august-9-2008.aspx

  2. Bruce Twitchell says:

    Great photos and thank you for taking the time to share them. It is great to see and read what is going on. I love the shot of all the photographers trying to get the photo at the same time, it is fun to try and ID as many as I can.

  3. Gary says:

    Cool blog man, like Justin said it’s pretty interesting reading it. Can’t wait to see more.


  4. gosh – i know i keep on saying this – but your work is excellent.

    its pretty great of your buddy to keep us posted like he is…

    btw – i am 98% sure i saw you on TV

  5. Don says:

    Wow Kase, lets be fair Vincent Laforet is one of the best and most respected photographers in the US if not the world. Mark is doing a great job and many of us stateside would give both Nuts to be in his situation. mark keep up the good work.

  6. Tim says:

    Want to thank you for the time and effort to post these images. I very much enjoy reading your blog and seeing the posted images, showing an entirely different side to the olympics than I see on tv, not to mention the obvious interest from a photographer stand point. Your images have been excellent! Thank you. Hopefully you are having some level of fun in spite of the intense pressure and work to shoot good and unique images. Though the hordes of photographers would be frusrtrating, no doubt most photographers such as myself reading your blog would love to be their shooting with you!

  7. Dianna says:

    I’m sure you’re having the time of your life. Speaking of Vincent . . . isn’t that him (in the group of photographers) shooting right in front of you?


  8. Thomas Shea says:


    Great stuff man I have seen you on TV a couple times and I am really jalous I am not there shooting. I disagree with Kase, you photo of fencing I think is the best fencinsg picture I have seen yet. It freezes the fencers face yes there is good motion also.
    The best picture of the birds nest I have seen is Rod Mar’s photo, http://blog3.seattletimes.nwsource.com/bestseatinthehouse/2008/08/olympics_clamping_down.html It is a great fireworks photo yet great color inside the stadium too. My favorite picture so far is (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times) times photo I have seen many similar but none does as well. Can’t wait to see the photos from the 4 X 4 relay that USA just won beating France by a milli-second. Man I wish I was there.


  9. Andy says:


    You have some great stuff. Keep up the good work!!! I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your new posts!!

  10. Scott Foley says:


    Great stuff bro! Have fun shooting…

    I am redeploying home from Iraq today…will be nice to get home and start shooting again…

    Take care and keep the pics coming…



  11. Ev says:


    Your pics are absolutely amazing and thank you so much for sharing.


  12. Al Santos says:


    Great work, man! I was watching women’s gymnastic and saw you on tv. You rank up there with the best! Keep the excellent photos coming.

  13. Ken says:

    Thanks for posting. Awesome photos and narrative, both are inspiring.


  14. I really enjoyed reading your blog and viewing your photos of the Olympics. I watched every one of those events and to then turn around and read your blog about your experience as a photographer was a treat for me. I am an aspiring photographer trying to make it in a world where everyone else thinks that they are a photographer as well. Keep up the great work, and know that people all over the country are viewing your work. At least one in Tennessee is.


  15. Joey Wilson says:


    Great images and blog. Please keep up the amazing work!!

    Have you found a “Chilli’s” yet??


  16. Thanks for taking the time to fill us in back here in the states! I can’t imagine how difficult your schedule much less where and when you find the time to blog. Just the same I am enjoying your photos and commentary. Living vicariously through you…


  17. John Setzler says:

    These images are amazing. I’m glad I stumbled across your blog.

  18. Eric says:

    Mark great work. FWIW I like your photo over Vincent’s.

  19. jeff bukantz says:


    This is Jeff Bukantz. I returned from Beijing yesterday, where I was fencing Team Captain.
    Faced Bush 41, I was to the left of him after the girl.
    Can you please send me any good shots?

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