The Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay happened 16 years ago. I may have forgotten things (well – I know I have forgotten a lot!). I may have misremembered a few things. And I have certainly left a lot of details out. So much more happened than I have mentioned here – that would take ten books to recount the full story.
My story is based on memories that are triggered by the photos I took. Looking at them today brings back distinct recollections of tiny moments in time. If it was not for my 25,000+ photos I doubt I would remember much of 16 years ago.
As I have said before, it was a massive team effort. I owe much of much access to these amazing moments to the supporting torch relay crew.
After this relay, I went on to photograph a few more relays in different parts of the world – but those stories are for another time. Now its time to for me get back to my work. I hope you enjoyed the recollections and remastered photos. Share your thoughts and comments with me.
Rise of the Camera Phone
Looking through the photos and analysing the crowds, one thing that really stands out is the total lack of phone cameras (which obviously werent invented in 2000). Everyone in the crowd is enjoying the moment live, with their own eyes – not through their iPhone screen as they do today. Occasionally there would be a camera nerd with an SLR camera round his neck, or mum and dad with their little instamatic film cameras (shooting a few frames that probably turned out horribly when they got the prints back from the chemist a few days later).
Its a strong reminder how the way we witness big events has changed for the general public. Now days you don’t see peoples faces in the crowd because they are all shadowed behind their camera phone they hold constantly to their face. Its also changed the role of the professional photographer. In 2000 my images really mattered. It was really the way everyone could see and share the Torch Relay journey. Today I don’t see there is so much of a need for official photographers in many ways as everyone has taken a photo or video and posted in on-line for the world to see before the official photographer can even think about deciding which photo to edit and send. Its very hard for one photographer to compete with the general public who have every moment covered from every angle as they crowd around the centre of attention.
Smartphones have amazing photo taking qualities – even a monkey can take a good shot. There is still a need for the Official Photographer – because you still need the skill and experience and the access to special situations to record the event properly. But it has become a very different market. The public digest imagery completely differently today.
And if I had a chance to do it again…? 100% yes! I would love to go back in time and do it again. I would do it exactly the way I did it in 2000 but with one change – the camera technology! The idea of a lightweight, super high resolution, see in-the dark digital camera – with crystal clear laptop screens, fast software and large hard drives and mobile broadband. Oh my god, mobile broadband! And drones and… OK , you get the point. Camera technology is the only thing that I lacked in 2000 and would have bitten my left arm off to have.
I’m also thankful for all the friends I made. The 100+ crew that gave me the chance and the support to succeed. If I was to dedicate this adventure to any one person it would have to be to beautiful Lisa H. Lisa was there from my very first days at SOCOG and encouraged me and gave me tips on how to convince her boss to give me the job of Official Photographer. She was the warmest and happiest person on the entire team. One of the warmest person I haver ever known. Loved by all. Lisa left this world way too soon. But she will always be with us, and me, in joyous spirit.