©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia
What is it like photographing 75 Olympic athletes in 2 and-a-half days? Something of a cross between speed-dating and a three-ring circus. I was assigned to a room with six other photographers this past week at the Palmer House for the media preview of the United States Olympic Committee. Representing various wire services and newspapers, we were given a few minutes each to shoot portraits of athletes of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It was the first time I had ever done something like this. During the cavalcade I was literally bumping my behind against a UPI photographer’s as we avoided trampling each other’s cords and equipment. Because of the loud din, I found myself shouting directions at the athletes who were remarkably good sports about it – given that I was blasting them with a ringflash and four other lights. Of course, in the middle of all this, television stations from across the country came through filming us as we photographed the athletes. No, that wasn’t chaotic. Because athletes were herded into the room in droves, there were some quiet moments in between where the photographers engaged in the topics of conversation you would expect among a group of guys holed up in a room for days – duct tape, hermaphrodites and the Die Hard movie where some guy gets stabbed with an icicle. All told, it was fun and inspiring to be around such athletic overachievers. I know this coming Olympics will have added meaning as I will recognize some names and faces. Here is a photo gallery of some of the Olympic hopefuls.