Photographers' Blog

Ghosts of Olympics past

By Toby Melville

The United Kingdom, London in particular, is cranking up the momentum with just over two months to go until the 2012 Summer Olympics begin. In the last few months myriads of sporting, political and business photocalls have taken place around the gleaming and glittering new venues in east London with many test events being held therein.

The last time London hosted the Olympics was in 1948, three years after the Second World War and because of that global conflict, it was the first Olympics in 12 years, since Berlin in 1936. The competition was labelled the Austerity Games, because of the post-war rationing and the economic climate of the time. With the 2012 Games also set against a backdrop of global financial and economic crisis, comparisons with the previous time London played host are easy to make.

In 2012, over nine billion pounds sterling (approximately US$13billion) has so far been channeled into building brand new stadia, with a whole new Olympic Park complex in east London. But in 1948, only existing venues and facilities were used, nor was there an athletes village. The total cost of the games then was £760 000 (approx £131 million, $210 million, in 2012). In 1948, British athletes had to buy their own kit and make their own way to events by public transport. Some of the venues used in 1948 are still in existence, so I thought it would make an interesting journey to track down and photograph them nearly 65 years later…

SLIDESHOW: LONDON 1948

(View a slideshow of images here)

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

By Eddie Keogh

The world now is a very different place to the one that held the Ancient Olympic Games which only lasted for one day. In those days only men could compete and only unmarried women could watch. It was rumored that women would dress up like men in order to get in, but that sounds a little Pythonesque….

The greatest show on earth is due to take place this summer in London. For a London boy who has photographed sport for the past 30 years, having the Olympics here is very special. It won’t be my first, that was in Los Angeles. As a 21 year old kid working for a London news agency, I can still remember my jaw dropping when I was asked to go. My hair is a little greyer now, but I still have the photography bug and was looking forward to covering the Olympic test events.

Now it’s a very serious business. The stadiums and venues are ready and the testing is now in full flow. As a photographer working for Reuters in Britain we shoot a lot of Premier League football, so to have the opportunity to shoot some different sports is challenging but really interesting. We need to get the right balance on each job, from nailing an important moment that tells the story of the day to shooting some pretty or unusual angles. Sometimes I get it good and other times I get it better. (Ok, I’ve missed a few, just don’t tell the boss.)

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