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|| News Item: Posted 2008-09-04

Olympic Moments: Tim Clayton
By Tim Clayton, The Sydney Morning Herald

Photo by Tim Clayton / The Sydney Morning Herald

Photo by Tim Clayton / The Sydney Morning Herald
Congratulations China! As we've come to hear at each Olympics, 'Beijing was the best games ever!" And frankly, even coming from Sydney, it would be hard to argue with that. The Chinese did an amazing job! Gone were the endless security checks, one a day if you stayed in the Olympic bubble made life much easier. The entire Olympic Games were run by 17-year-old volunteers who kept smiling and thanked you even if you swore at them under deadline duress. The efficiency was superb and as the games wore on, despite the lack of sleep, it was easy to realize that this was a great Olympics!

I even think I saw a couple of other photographers on the tribune at the end of the track! Where was everybody, I couldn't understand why cooking facilities hadn't been installed for us with a couple of bunk beds, there was so much space and so few photographers. Perhaps it's a sad reflection of the times as the industry recoils and newspapers and website rely more and more on the wire services.

Alas, as the Fairfax Media team assembled around the carousel at Sydney Airport the day after the Olympics, we were greeted with the news of 550 job losses across the Fairfax Media group. I hope I get the cheque! At least it will allow me the freedom of expression, which somehow seems to have been lost in the ever-increasing reliance of "cat sat on the mat" images. Now the only thing that seems to matter is immediacy and "hits", nobody uses the word "quality" anymore! A dumbing down by the dumb!

But back to the Olympics, for me as a photographer I think I enjoyed Beijing as my "best Olympics ever", experience counts for so much, especially how to pace yourself and survive on five hours sleep a night. You shoot the old, the new, the borrowed and the blue backgrounds and say your prayers to the photo gods every night and hope you have that touch of luck throughout and things go your way. It was, dare I say it, enjoyable!

But the big joy for me was turning my camera in the opposite direction, my colleague, Steve Christo and I decided to shoot an essay on the Chinese people at the Olympic Games, instead of shooting the fireworks, we shot the people watching the fireworks, we shot people in the stands watching the events, the locals in cafes the soldiers in varied numbers and the volunteers. It was fun, it was an extra motivation, which somehow helped us, shoot the sport better and provided a release from the agony of nearly getting a great sports picture.

The future looks bleak and if London does come calling I hope the clash with frame grabs and video, immediacy and dumb editors at least leaves enough room for a few people to still produce some top quality photo-journalism!

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What do you do when software testing loses it's luster?? Make my hobby, my job!! ::..