With the Olympics just around the corner, we thought we’d delve into past Games to find a selection of the best photographs – and we’ve discovered that you needn’t look a great deal further than one man’s website.
Among the strongest Olympic photographers is Mike Powell, a Brit now living and working in the United States, who has built an excellent reputation over the years for his skill and timing. His website points out that you only have “natural light, a sharp eye and a split second” to capture crucial moments from sporting events – yet his images are striking for their sheer variety of ideas.
Intriguingly, some of Powell’s most powerful images do not actually depict sporting action. On his website is a striking photograph of the United States’ football match against Nigeria, after the full-time whistle, in which players express both exhilaration in victory and despair in defeat with one pose – by lying on the pitch. There is also the euphoric aftermath of Usain Bolt’s record-breaking sprint in Beijing in 2008, with elation etched into the faces of the crowd he faces in jubilation.
The measure of his skill, though, is in the action shots. Powell’s use of motion blurring is exceptional, keeping subjects such as cyclists and sprinters in surprisingly sharp focus while creating a dizzying sense of urgency and speed. There is also an excellent photograph of swimmers diving into a pool, all eight of them in mid-air without a single ripple in the water. This is a tremendously strong image, evoking the sense of anticipation in the build-up to the race. All of his Olympic portfolio will be well worthy of your time – so have a look here.