50,000 images, 250 matches, 2 weeks, 1 champion

February 5, 2013

Melbourne, Australia

By Rob Dawson

Yummy, Fried Egg and Scrambled Eggs

Now that your appetites are whet I am going to disappoint you. This isn’t a blog about food.

Growing up in Melbourne you might think tennis was a big part of my life, with the first slam of the year being held every year in the city, but I don’t come from that Melbourne. I grew up in a small market town in Derbyshire in Britain. My experience of tennis growing up involved playing on this court and ones similar. Luckily the poorly maintained surface and nets did not quell my enthusiasm for the sport. I would often rush home from school so I could watch Wimbledon on the television while eating home picked strawberries and cream.

My first experience at editing tennis was in 2005. Within my first two months working at Reuters, I was assigned to be a processor at Wimbledon. I was ecstatic when I found out. Then on the first day my smile dropped. Over the next two weeks I went through one of my steepest learning curves in my career so far. The sheer amount of pictures taken, sent to clients and the tennis matches covered were eye-opening.

Luckily over the years Reuters has improved our editing technology, which not only makes our lives easier, most importantly it means we can cope with the advancements in the camera technology (more pictures to edit) and remain speedy with our delivery of a comprehensive file to our clients whose demands are ever changing.


When I was asked if I wanted to edit the Australian Open for a second year I of course said yes. I looked at more than 50,000 images over the duration of the tournament, although this is only a daily average of 3700, at times it felt like I was drowning in pictures. The deft processing of the off-site editors Gil and Yen kept us on top of things so we could send a daily selection of approximately 250 images to our clients to meet their deadlines. This year I noticed clients would produce online galleries featuring comprehensive coverage of key matches of their countries top players swiftly after the match was complete.

It was not just the off-site editors who helped keep on top of things but the team of six photographers filing their pictures from court-side during matches or the others who would be running around covering two, sometimes three, matches being played concurrently on outside courts. Thankfully they can add voice tags to their photos, explaining what is going on in a picture. These can sometimes be humorous, instructive and often prove invaluable as it can be a real challenge to work out why one picture of the 50,000 might be more important than the rest. Especially when covering around 250 matches over 14 days.

If I am fortunate enough to go back to edit in 2014 I can only imagine that the 50,000 pictures will soar to new highs and that our clients will want more pictures, delivered faster than before too as live blogging becomes more popular and the appetite for consuming live news on mobile devices increases.

Now I’m sure you are wondering where fried eggs and scrambled eggs fit into tennis. This was one of our photographers’ favourite voice tags. Used to refer to the moment, quite a photographic feat, when the tennis ball is either in the center of the racket, making it look like the yolk of a fried egg, or when the ball appears flat on the racket looking like scrambled eggs.

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Rob, hopefully the sandwiches were better

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