Fastest photographer on the track

August 17, 2009

There was a second lightning bolt on the track with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt on Sunday night, Reuters photographer Kai Pfaffenbach. Below Kai talks about what it was like to keep up with the fastest man in the world.

You can see Kai in action in this You Tube video.

Despite setting up two remote cameras at the finish line myself, my colleague Michael Dalder (aka the remote king) set up six remotes and secured the best pictures of the finish line (above).

Kai keeps up with Usain Bolt after the men’s 100 meters final at the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin August 16, 2009.  EPA/DPA Hannibal Hanschke

I shot the finish line handheld on a 135mm Canon Mark3 and had an EOS5D Mk 2 with a 16-35mm ready on my lap. Bolt was running so fast on the outer curve that I decided to take a shortcut and cut the curve and catch up with him on the other side of the stadium, ahead of the other snappers. Running beside the world record holder, I was shooting on 1000 ISO at 1/800 sec f2.8.

This was my tenth 100m final including Olympics and World Championships.  It definitely was the most exciting race. Of course I knew before the race that I would have to chase him but I didn’t expect him to be going that fast!


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Great blog… I watched this live and remarked at how adept you camera guys were!! very cool to read about the world record finish from your perspective. I love the info about the cameras and am most impressed that you could shoot at 1/800th of a second!

Posted by Hogan | Report as abusive

i saw and told my wife that the photo guy was out to get the first photos of BOLT as it would be a graet coup for him, he did a gtreat job,congrats

Posted by david williams | Report as abusive

[…] Vía | Reuters […]

Posted by Fotografiando al rayo (Bolt) « Asier Casado | Report as abusive

Well done Kai. You got up some speed there!

Posted by Kate Day | Report as abusive

Great photographer.excellent art of work

Posted by Atlas Gates | Report as abusive

Incredible race. Having a plan is the only way to have a bleep of a chance at capturing anything worthwhile in a race that is over in nine and one half seconds. It’s incredible that you have more than a blur.Great shots…

Posted by Julius Suber | Report as abusive

Having the fastest photographer makes your media the most interesting! I love how you mention details of the camera, and I am looking forward to getting a similar type to enjoy photography. Thanks for the info! Yola-Nigeria

Posted by Ibrahim Muhammed | Report as abusive

Informative entry. This gives me perspective of photographers in action.

Posted by BG | Report as abusive

I Love it. I sat in my living room in Kingston Jamaica and saw you running to catch Bolt. I feel like I’m hearing the inside story now. More More More

Posted by Natasha in Jamaica | Report as abusive

Wonderful blog post! It’s nice to get the camera persons perspective and a sense of the skill/effort involved.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

Both of you guys and Bolt are excellent in your own field….

Posted by Ken Cui | Report as abusive

[…] loving this. When Usain Bolt set his world record 100m sprint time last week he was joined by more than just […]

Posted by Northern NSW and Byron Bay Wedding Photography » World Record Photographers Chase Down Usain Bolt | Report as abusive

kudos to him for this excellent piece of work. Very motivating for the upcoming photographers…cheers!

Posted by vijay honnungar | Report as abusive

We couldn’t help laughing: Usain Bolt jogging along and Kai sprinting to get ahead to get the shot. Funny, but it was worth it.

Posted by Hoshisato | Report as abusive


Posted by Kwamena Nunoo | Report as abusive

It’s wonderful to be alive to witness this. I watched it live in my living room and all i could mutter was wow!!! I think Bolt is more than just superhuman.

Posted by Kolawole Abiodun | Report as abusive

CAMERA BOLT!!….It’s amazing to see how Mr.Kai got the first fresh snaps of THE BOLT….well done sir!..The photography jargon makes me drool!!…I’m getting mine, a smaller one.. :)

Posted by Stiephen | Report as abusive

Nice photos, I think your sprint technique needs work though…try to get your knees up more like Usain does :)worthwhile run to get the shot though!

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

not the same person dont try to deceive

Posted by burak | Report as abusive

Rumour has it that it was not Bolt than got the new world record but infact Kai

Posted by braidsy | Report as abusive

Jamaica has the fastest man on track Usain Bolt and reuters has the fastest photographer Kai Pfaffenbach

Posted by kaaza | Report as abusive

Yuh SICK wid it my YUTE!!!!Faster than a speeding bullet…more powerful than a locomotive…out on the track…it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s INSANE…It’s Usain Bolt!!!!You are ALL NATURAL, UNADULTERATED, RAW INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH POWER!!!Thank you, thank you, thank you my brother!

Posted by Juneplum6 | Report as abusive

Excellent work and timming.

Posted by Silviu Matei | Report as abusive

Nice work Kai, as a Jamaican and a photography nut, this was a proud moment for me. Gold medal for Bolt, Gold Medal for Kai.

Posted by Gary McKenzie | Report as abusive