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|| News Item: Posted 2009-12-28

Decade Collection: Donald Miralle
'I ran into Lenny just a couple of weeks ago in LA, he gave me a hug, asked me how I was doing and still remembers this photo nearly a decade later.'

By Donald Miralle

Photo by Donald Miralle  /Allsport

Photo by Donald Miralle /Allsport

Lenny Krayzelburg of the USA glides underwater on his way to winning the Men's 100m Backstroke during the Janet Evans International Meet at the McDonalds Swim Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
In the summer of 2000, I was single, living in a crappy apartment in LA, and struggling financially. I was about three and a half years into my position at Allsport Photography, and was still a very young photographer just trying to find his way. At the time Allsport had a great staff of photographers in the US, UK and Australia; there was a core group of talented veterans and a crop of younger snappers about my age who had a great way of seeing things. In my opinion the group we had in the late 90’s early 00’s was the best collection of sports photographers in the world, with each photographer pushing the limits of their vision and at the same time pushing the other photographers around them to be better.

A lot of the photographers specialized in different sports – some loved golf, others motor racing, but I loved shooting a variety of everything with my favorites being football and swimming. This was still back in the film days when we would mostly shoot slide transparency, or "tranny" or "chrome" as we would call it, when the light was nice. But you would also allocate a few rolls of C-41 negative film for big moments, general coverage, or night games where you have to travel with a Dev-Tec and traveling darkroom for the wire. The days before digital, deadlines seemed tighter, the learning curve was steeper, travel and set-up was harder, but it many ways things were much simpler too.

This shot of Lenny Krayzelburg was one of my favorites from that year. I was ramping up for my first Olympic games in Sydney in September by shooting the LA Swimming Invitational at the USC Swimming pool in July. Having competed in that pool growing up swimming in LA and later in college at UCLA, it was a trip down memory lane photographing the same swimmers I used to compete against and swim with at the meet I was assigned to shoot. One of the top US swimmers at the time was Lenny Krayzelburg who was the World Record Holder in the 50M, 100M and 200M backstrokes. Since there wasn’t really a need to shoot the event on deadline, it was a weekend-long chrome fest, and the light was screaming. I took this photo from the 10M Diving platform with a 400mm lens, Canon 1V, and a roll of Velvia shot at normal F4.5/800th of a sec. I really liked how the light played on Lenny in the photo, and the water distorted his image.

Lenny went on to win three gold medals in Sydney a couple months later becoming the greatest backstroker of all time and my photo of him won first place in the Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual contest, the first time I won a photo contest of any kind.

I ran into Lenny just a couple of weeks ago in LA; he gave me a hug, asked me how I was doing and still remembers this photo nearly a decade later. I feel a lot of my success as a photographer can be attributed to being part of that talented Allsport team (later Getty Images after 2002) as well as being a member of, by using the available resources and network of photographers to share my vision as well as learn from other’s eyes. Nearly fourteen years after my first photography job, I am married to a wonderful wife with two beautiful children, two dogs, and living the dream in San Diego. And not a day passes that I don’t feel fortunate to have made the friends, traveled around the world, and supported my family by chasing light with a camera.

(Donald Miralle is a freelance photographer based in Southern California. He is formerly a staff photographer with Getty Images. You can see his member page here:

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