Olympic athletes are the closest thing we have to Greek gods — they’re beautiful, sculpted and highly dedicated. It’s pretty hard to make them all look bad. Unfortunately for Joe Klamar, his official photographs of US Olympic Athletes did just that. They were awful.
When the pictures came out, people thought it was some sort of sick and twisted joke. It couldn’t be real, right? Why would a news agency like Getty publish the pictures that had Olympic athletes under bad lighting, shoddy backgrounds, awkward poses and odd composition? They’re going to represent the United States in London and they look like the equivalent of terrible Craigslist photos snapped in a creepy guy’s basement? It made no sense. Here’s what Klamar himself said about these pictures:
“I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their headshots for our archives,” he explained. “I really had no idea that there would be a possibility for setting up a studio.” It was the first time AFP had been invited to participate in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Media Summit, which was held this year, in May, at a Hilton Hotel in Dallas.
Joe had come armed with two cameras and three lenses (17-35, 70-200 and 300), plus one flash and a 12-inch laptop. To his horror, he saw upon arriving that his colleagues from other news agencies and media organisations had set up studio booths with professional lights, backdrops and prop assistants. “It was very embarrassing to find out that I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of a studio,” Joe told us by email.
A press officer from the U.S. Olympic Committee took pity on Joe, and helped him convince another photographer to share booth space.