This is the moment Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the 100-meter men’s final for Italy on Sunday. The highest profile event of the Olympics, it was also the moment of maximum pressure for the Reuters team, and the photographer who took it, Los Angeles-based Lucy Nicholson: her own 100-meter final.
“It’s like a motorbike coming towards you,” Lucy said. Perched in a trench some 30 meters down from the finish line, it was her job not only to capture the historic moment of victory with the camera she was holding, but to trigger the array of remote cameras under her command with a foot pedal.
All these cameras have telephoto lenses which are pre-focused to the exact spot on the track where the photographer expects the anticipated winner to celebrate. An iPhone camera would show the whole stadium with minuscule runners, whereas a 300mm or 400mm professional lens fills the frame with a runner’s full body or upper torso.
“It’s faster than you’ve ever seen anyone run at you,” Lucy said. Decisions have to be made in a fraction of a second. If you get it wrong, there’s quite simply no picture, she said.
“To be safe, some people go for a super wide shot, but I like to gamble more. I try to pick the person I think is going to win and put most of my bets on that,” Lucy says.
A lot of time is spent researching the runners, their histories and their relationships with fellow competitors. But on Sunday, Jacobs’ victory was unexpected. “As he crossed the finishing line, it struck me he looked surprised that he’d actually won.”
Thanks to some of the best technology, and the finest technicians around, the picture was published for Reuters clients within seconds of being taken.
“We cut our speed of transmission by more than half the time it took for the first picture to land from the men’s 100-meter final at the Rio Olympics,” says Lucy.
The picture above, taken with a remote camera, was widely used by Reuters customers. These are all historic pictures, and ones that are made possible by having the most talented team of photographers out there. A total of eight other photographers followed the race from other vantage points, to make sure Reuters had every angle, including Kai Pfaffenbach, Dylan Martinez, Hannah McKay, Phil Noble, Andrew Boyers, Aleksandra Szmigiel, Pawel Kopczynski and Fabrizio Bensch.
Follow Reuters coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Games here.
heather.carpenter @ tr.com