Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games – Challenges of a Picture Editor

By Karl Sexton
Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia – my first ‘big’ assignment as an editor with epa. I had had some prior experience in editing in the field, having worked at a European Council Summit in Brussels in 2013. Whilst that experience gave me an insight into what was expected of me in Sochi, the weeks I spent in Russia have taught me so much more about the job we do at epa.

At the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, coming to work at the Main Media Centre in the mornings is always a pleasure. epa/Nic Bothma

At the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, coming to work at the Main Media Centre in the mornings is always a pleasure.
epa/Nic Bothma

After nearly four years at the desk in Frankfurt, I am familiar with handling a large volume and variety of images from all parts of the world, having to stay on top of the news, and responding to clients or member agency requests, as well as to breaking news stories. However, our shooters usually submit photographs that are pre-edited. Most of the time, the photos are technically ready to be transmitted to the wire, leaving the editor to focus on caption quality, picture selection, and making sure all the angles of a particular story are covered.

The role of an editor at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games or other such events is very different. Here, photographers send their images often straight from the camera, only a matter of seconds after the event or incident they are covering has occurred.

Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia, 07 February 2014. epa/Tatyana Zenkovich

Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia, 07 February 2014. epa/Tatyana Zenkovich

The shooters can transmit hundreds of raw, unedited images in only a few short minutes, and it is up to the editors in the media centre to sort through the myriad of different angles from various photographers, choose the best pictures and begin the post-production work, such as balancing colour levels and cropping, as well as captioning the photos. All of this has to be done at speed, in order to deliver a high-quality product to our clients in the timeliest fashion possible. We watch television monitors with live feeds of the events we are covering to stay on top of the action, and we use online information services to keep track of details such as results, scores, and spellings of athletes names, to name but a few.

epa editors at work during the during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Picture on the right: Gernot Hensel keeping a steady hand on the helm of the ship / On the left Stephan Mueller and Karl Sexton loving their Figure Skating editing. epa/Nic Bothma

epa editors at work during the during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Picture on the right: Gernot Hensel keeping a steady hand on the helm of the ship / On the left Stephan Mueller and Karl Sexton loving their Figure Skating editing. epa/Nic Bothma

These aspects of truly participating in the production of the image and feeling real proximity to the action are some which I have found hugely interesting, not to mention satisfying. Seeing an image in play that you have edited from a raw file to a finished product is a real source of professional pride, even if it is the photographer who (deservedly!) takes most of the glory.

Endo Sho of Japan in action during the Qualification 1 of the Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls competition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, 10 February 2014. epa/Sergey ilnitsky

Endo Sho of Japan in action during the Qualification 1 of the Freestyle Skiing Men’s Moguls competition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, 10 February 2014. epa/Sergey ilnitsky

Having spent the best part of a month at these Games, I have also had the immense pleasure of meeting and getting to know the people whose work I have the privilege of editing back at the desk in Frankfurt. It has been a massive learning experience and fantastic opportunity to exchange views and ideas on the job or on life, and to hear stories from colleagues and friends from every corner of the globe.

A multiple exposure image of South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna, the reigning Olympic champion in the women's single event, during an open practice session at the Iceberg Palace during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. epa/Barbara Walton

A multiple exposure image of South Korean figure skater Kim Yuna, the reigning Olympic champion in the women’s single event, during an open practice session at the Iceberg Palace during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. epa/Barbara Walton

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