What Makes an Olympic Image Truly Stand Out? Tips from Richard Whiting

For sports photography, the Olympic Games are one of the most important events in the world, where unforgettable, emotional moments and historic events can be captured. These images would be seen everywhere in newspapers, social media or on television. Therefore, it is important to choose the right shots that will create captivating memories for the viewer.

For this step, we reached out to Richard Whiting, Senior Global Sport, Entertainment & News Content Partnership Manager at IMAGO, who shared 5 valuable insights on what photographers capture at the Olympic Games, the hurdles they face in capturing the right moments, and what makes these images truly remarkable in the end.

1. Decisive Archive Moments with Analog Photography

“I believe back in the days of analog photography, sports photographers had to work and prepare that little bit harder to catch the right shot and to capture that decisive moment.” - Richard Whiting

Olympics Atlanta 1996 imageIMAGO / Allstar / Mary Evans | Opening Ceremony Atlanta 1996.

Linford Christie winns 100m Barcelona 1992 OlympicsIMAGO / Colorsport | Linford Christie (Great Britain) wins the 100m. Barcelona Olympics 1992.

Boris Becker and Michael Stich Olympics 1992IMAGO / Kosecki | Boris Becker (left) and Michael Stich (both Germany), double Olympic champions, with their gold medals Tennis Summer Men's Olympic Games 1992.


2. Olympic Photos That Become Iconic

Over the years, the Olympic Games have produced some of the greatest moments in sport. Such images will live on in the memory of those who managed to capture the moment, but also those who have seen these images used around the world.  

Muhammad Ali in atlanta at the olympicsIMAGO / Bildbyran I  Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony at The Summer Olympic Games, Olympic 1996, Atlanta.

GRB Team Men Coxless Fours Sydney 2000IMAGO / Colorsport | (L-R) James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent. GBR Team celebrates at the end of the National Anthem. Men's Coxless Fours, Rowing, Sydney Olympics 2000.

Olympic Games 1992 Barcelona : Basketball USA Dream Team GoldIMAGO / Pressefoto Baumann | Olympic Games 1992 Barcelona: Basketball USA Dream Team Gold.

Golden Running Shoes of Michael JohnsonIMAGO / HJS | The Golden Running Shoes of Michael Johnson (USA) Athletics OS Summer Men Olympic Summer Games 1996.


3. Emotional Shots That Capture the Audience's Attention

To give everyone goosebumps, Richard suggests selecting images that show strong emotions. Readers of magazines and online articles, as well as viewers of films or documentaries, should have the feeling of having been there witnessing that particular moment live.

usain bolt at the olympics beijing 2008IMAGO / Sipa USA Collection I Usain Bolt celebrates after anchoring the 4x100 meter at the Olympics in Beijing 2008.

German team celebrates goal by Dzsenifer Marozsan Rio 2016 Olympic GamesIMAGO / Sipa USA Collection I Usain Bolt celebrates after anchoring the 4x100 meter at the Olympics in Beijing 2008.


4. Difficult Sports Shots for Stunning Photos

In sports like the 100-meter sprint, photographers only have 10 seconds to capture powerful images of the race and the athletes celebrating. Despite the short duration, the photos are often gripping, as every moment counts. Even during the swim, where there is a lot going on, the photographers manage to take exciting pictures of the swimmers in the water despite the heat, the noise inside the arena and the sometimes limited space to work.

Runners line up 100m Tokyo 2020 OlympicsIMAGO / USA TODAY Network / Mandi Wright | Runners line up for the men’s 100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games

michael phelps swimmingIMAGO / ABACAPRESS I Michael Phelps Won the 23rd Gold Medal in swimming during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Russia synchronized swimming team Rio 2016IMAGO / Shutterstock / Marcos De Paula | Russia's gold medalists' team competes during the synchronized swimming, free routine final. Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, 2016.


5. The Value of Access to a Broad Archive  

The images of the Olympic Games are timeless and make it possible to revisit special events and report on them again and again. Therefore, it is particularly advantageous for an agency to have an extensive archive of photos from past Olympic Games for selection. Above all, there, you can find impressive analog images that were taken in the right place at the right time, showcasing IMAGO’s vast collections of images from the past.

Bob Beamon men long jump 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games

IMAGO / United Archives International | Bob Beamon El Paso Texas USA in a prodigious leap which bettered the old world record by more than two feet leaps 29 feet 2 half inches at the men's long jump event to win the Olympic Gold medal in the 19th Olympic Games Mexico City 1968.

Olympic Zeus ruins black and white imageIMAGO / Depositphotos | Black and white photo of ancient ruins of the temple of Zeus Olympic.

1896 Athens Olpympics Opening CeremonyIMAGO / Colorsport | 1896 Athens Olympics Opening Ceremony


Read the full interview in The Game Magazine for more insights and to learn more about Richard's experience attending the Olympic Games. 

If you are interested in finding out more about IMAGO's visual content coverage of the Olympics, please contact Richard Whiting directly for personalized advice on his LinkedIn or by emailing richard.whiting@imago-images.de. Feel free to mention this article when you contact him. 




IMAGO Newsletter


Weitere Artikel

10 Iconic Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies

When the Olympic Games come to town, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies give the host nation the...

11 Facts Every Sports Fan Should Know About the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games represent the pinnacle of sporting spirit, where every four years, the most...

Unlocking Success: The Decision to Venture into In-Game Advertising

There are numerous ways to promote products, and the virtual world offers new opportunities for...