Being a photographer at the Olympics is insanely grueling work


Athletes aren’t the only ones performing feats of strength and endurance at the Rio de Janeiro Games — Olympic photographers have it pretty tough, too.

Getty Images chief photographer Al Bello spoke with INSIDER from Rio, where he’s currently shooting aquatics events like swimming and diving. Bello revealed that snapping those iconic Olympics images involves a lot more than just pressing a button on camera: It’s grueling — but rewarding— work.

“If you want to do this job and you think it’s just pretty pictures, spend a day with me, and I’ll show you the other side of it,” he said.

Here’s a look at what it really takes to be a photographer at world’s biggest sporting event:

Al Bello is currently in Rio, covering his 11th Olympic games.

Al Bello is currently in Rio, covering his 11th Olympic games.

Pyrros Dimas of Greece celebrates a successful lift in Athens Olympics.Getty Images/Al Bello

He got his start in the 1990s as a boxing photographer.

He got his start in the 1990s as a boxing photographer.

Boxers Francisco Soto and Paul Banke during a bout in 1993.Getty Images/Al Bello

And he’s spent his career capturing some pretty iconic images.

And he's spent his career capturing some pretty iconic images.

American figure skater Sasha Cohen performs at the 2006 games in Torino.Getty Images/Al Bello

He told INSIDER that Olympic photography — particularly underwater photography — is not exactly glamorous.

He told INSIDER that Olympic photography — particularly underwater photography — is not exactly glamorous.

Hannah Starling of Great Britain completes a dive during the London games.Getty Images/Al Bello

“It’s very stressful. It’s very much a grind. I probably don’t enjoy myself till after I go home,” he said. “When you do put a lot of effort into getting good photographs, it makes it all worthwhile.”

"It’s very stressful. It's very much a grind. I probably don’t enjoy myself till after I go home," he said. "When you do put a lot of effort into getting good photographs, it makes it all worthwhile."

Australia’s synchronized swimming team competes in London.Getty Images/Al Bello

This picture of an American diver, from the London Olympics, is one of his most famous underwater images.

This picture of an American diver, from the London Olympics, is one of his most famous underwater images.

Diver Christina Loukas surfaces in a heart-shaped splash.Getty Images/Al Bello

So how, exactly, does he capture shots like these?

So how, exactly, does he capture shots like these?

Michael Phelps of Team USA rests after swimming in the 2016 Olympic trials.Getty Images/Al Bello

Before the athletic events begin, Bello sets up his Canon camera inside a waterproof enclosure.

Before the athletic events begin, Bello sets up his Canon camera inside a waterproof enclosure.

Bello, right, and a colleague prep their Canon camera.Courtesy Al Bello

Then he dives into the pool (in full scuba gear!) to set it up at just the right angle.

Then he dives into the pool (in full scuba gear!) to set it up at just the right angle.

Courtesy Al Bello

Then, he and his team run wires from the camera out of the pool and into a computer nearby. From there — thanks to robotic technology — they’re able to adjust the camera and fire the shutter remotely.

Then, he and his team run wires from the camera out of the pool and into a computer nearby. From there — thanks to robotic technology — they're able to adjust the camera and fire the shutter remotely.

A closer look at underwater camera setup.Courtesy Al Bello

“It is something that I still marvel at, considering I come from the days of film,” Bello said. “It’s a little overwhelming at times, but that’s the world we are in. It’s moving at lightning speed.”

"It is something that I still marvel at, considering I come from the days of film," Bello said. "It’s a little overwhelming at times, but that’s the world we are in. It’s moving at lightning speed."

A Belgian bobsled team practices before the start of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.Getty Images/Al Bello

Once a photo is taken, it can be cropped, edited, and sent out to Getty’s clients in two minutes flat.

Once a photo is taken, it can be cropped, edited, and sent out to Getty's clients in two minutes flat.

Runners cross the finish line of the men’s 110m hurdles final at the Sydney games in 2000.Getty Images/Al Bello

The winter games presents a new set of challenges.

The winter games presents a new set of challenges.

Russia plays against the United States during the Sochi games.Getty Images/Al Bello

“I think downhill ski racing is one of the hardest things to [photograph],” Bello said. “You have to ski with 60 pounds of gear on your back, on the same mountain that the skiers are on.”

 "I think downhill ski racing is one of the hardest things to [photograph]," Bello said. "You have to ski with 60 pounds of gear on your back, on the same mountain that the skiers are on."

An Austrian skier at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.Getty Images/Al Bello

“The Olympics as a whole are insanely difficult,” he added. “The physical part of it wears you out.”

"The Olympics as a whole are insanely difficult," he added. "The physical part of it wears you out."

Cuban Boxer Yankiel Leon takes a break during a bout at the Beijing Olympics.Getty Images/Al Bello

But Bello and his team have prepared for the long haul.

But Bello and his team have prepared for the long haul.

Hadi Sepehrzad of Iran competes in the Men’s decathlon long jump during the Beijing Olympics.Getty Images/Al Bello

“It’s a little bit hectic,” he said. “Our team has been working very, very hard, and I think we’re just about ready.”

"It's a little bit hectic," he said. "Our team has been working very, very hard, and I think we're just about ready."

Bello, left, and a colleague set up an underwater camera at the Olympics.Courtesy Al Bello

Original Article By Caroline Praderio, INSIDER

Source: Insider

-Hymer

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