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Our Photographers’ Favorite Olympic Images

Times photographers sought to capture every aspect of the Olympic Games in Beijing. These pictures were special to them.

Over the last several weeks, a team of New York Times photographers sought to capture every aspect of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

I thought a lot about the implications of photographing women, many of whom are still teenagers, figure skating in revealing costumes as they executed incredible feats of athleticism. Nicole Schott, 25, of Germany, wore a costume with a massive cutout on one side of her waist. As she turned into a backbend while spinning on one skate, I snapped a few frames of how far she was bending. The shadows on her neck and along her stomach, to me, showed the amount of torque the athletes’ bodies endure and the strength it takes to accomplish these tricks. Her little Olympic ring necklace suspended in motion was a little bonus detail to illustrate how fast she was spinning and to provide a little context about where she was competing.


It snowed hard for only one day during these Winter Games — something that was actually problematic because the Alpine courses were all made with artificial snow. For the men’s 4×10-kilometer cross-country relay, course workers had to blow the freshly fallen snow from the parallel tracks made for the classic-style skis. When the race started and the skiers powered forward, there was a strong and bitter wind blowing snow into their faces. The scene felt like a real Winter Olympics moment.


A legend. The last Olympic Games for that legend. And the legend’s last moment. I was humbled and honored to witness Shaun White’s feelings, which no one could tell in a story but could tell in a picture. A picture that said a thousand words would have been this photo to me. A legend will still be the legend.

I had never photographed ski jumping before, so I arrived early in the morning at the ski jumping center in Zhangjiakou and tried to find the best view of the action. The perspective was thrilling, of course, but no matter how I framed it, I couldn’t get the right contrast against the snowy, white background. During a break in the competition, I left the hill. Then I came back when it was dark. The winding cross-country course, which the jumpers can look out over as they take flight, was lit up against the black of night, creating a beautiful scene. I waited for an athlete wearing a bright suit so she would be illuminated in midair. It was a freezing night, but braving the cold was worth it to catch this moment.


Olympic athletes are required to go through an area known as a mixed zone. Reporters can ask questions there, but athletes are not required to answer them. Last week, after she fell and was disqualified from the Alpine combined, Mikaela Shiffrin spent more than an hour talking with reporters about the most disappointing Olympics of her career. Shiffrin could have easily walked past all the journalists, but she didn’t. I was surprised, but impressed with her strength and courage. It had to be painful: The ceremony was taking place just behind her, the Olympic music was playing and the athletes on the podium were celebrating with their medals. Shiffrin did not even turn around to watch.


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