Covering medal ceremonies and emotions of victory or defeat in team sports can be difficult. While shooting, you need to have your eyes everywhere. There is action going on all over the field and you need to capture joy as well as dejection to complete the story.
At the end of the Ice Sledge Hockey final between Russia and the USA, I realized other photographers were running onto the ice, heading to the Russian team that had got together for the obligatory team photo. I ran too. As you can imagine running on ice can be a bit tricky. I tried to stop without slipping or hurt myself. I went down on my knees sliding with my camera towards the Russian team.
It must have been funny for my colleagues to watch. I was afraid that I would slide into a Russian player. Looking through the viewfinder helped as I could see the players came closer and closer. Luckily, I stopped right in front of them and got my shot. Although they won silver, they were quite ecstatic. A very important picture, because Russia hosted the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and they made the final and won silver medal.
Our big final was the Closing Ceremony which was held on Sunday, March 16th, the day after the Ice Sledge Hockey final. It was our last event to cover before heading back home. Preparations for this were pretty much the same as for the Opening Ceremony – but with fewer photographers because there were competitions still running in the mountains. So in the end, there were only four of us from Getty and this made it difficult to plan positions.We had to make sure we covered all important parts of the ceremony from various angles.
I was to take almost the same position that I had for the Opening Ceremony. This time, I went a bit lower in the stands to look out for Russian President Vladimir Putin. I also I set up a remote camera in front of me with a wide 14-24mm lens attached for general views. Putin was supposed to be officially announced. Because of the Crimea Crisis, I knew a photo of him would be a big deal. I prepared my 400mm lens with a D4 for this image, just waiting for him to arrive. He was waving to the spectators and that’s when I took that picture.
As a Getty Images photographer, I often get close to some of the most powerful people in sport and politics – I like it and it’s a huge privilege. Vladimir Putin was literally just 20m away from me. It is not a very spectacular image or an amazing piece of art, but it concludes the Olympic and the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi for me.
Many commentators have called Sochi 2014 the ‘Putin Games’. His passion and dedication to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Russia and to Sochi was the main reason we were all there. Putin wanted to host Winter Games in subtropical climate conditions, and, despite my personal views on him, I do acknowledge what Russia was able to present… The venues were great, in spite of the fact they have been built in a very short period of time.