Olympic Fauxtog

The not so professional photos of the US Olympic Team. Fauxtography really can happen to anyone!

Link : http://solsticevisuals.com/post/26229830602/outrage-over-the-photographs-of-the-united-states

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  1. Very stupid and ignorant post this…

    This is not a bad amateur that sells his service at too high a proice and consistently delivers bad quality.

    This is a serious and well reckognised real PRO that either got misinformed or did not read the info he was given correctly.

    The guy shows up at an event thinking he’s going to get just a little bit of time to make some quick shots only to find that to his horror everyone else brought a complete studio and assistants…

    He immediately reaised he made a mistake and admits to that…

    He should not be hung up to dry here!

  2. This has been discussed a lot, of course, but my opinion is: Some of this shots are good. Not in a technical way, of course, but in the sense that they will be part of the few olympics shots that I’ll remember. In fact, the only other photograph I can think of now, is the one of Tommie Smith & John Carlos.

  3. Pelham

    *shaking head* The organizers should’ve called Joey Lawrence.

    • Joey Lawrence would have just created overblown ‘hollywood chintz’ – not a great approach either.

  4. This really just shows that even some really good photographers can screw up (and end up ridiculed on sites like this). Like all art, occasionally you roll craps even when experienced. He tried to get something other than simple portraits, which he could’ve done like everyone else was doing. Instead, he was trying to do environmental stuff to describe the athlete’s sport in an image.

    I don’t blame yanap for posting this, as the full backstory was posted, too. Yes, there is an explanation as noted in the first response. He brought equipment thinking it was a stage event. Instead, it was “Bring a location studio, you have 4 minutes with each person.” There’s a huge difference in lights, background, etc. For what he had to work with in an emergency, these weren’t great but not horrible either.

    Retouching could really help these out a lot, and these look straight out of camera.

    • Now that I think of it, he was a photojournalist. In his defense, photojournalists do not retouch images. So they were definitely SOOC.

  5. I’m sorry, but this website is getting abit retarded. You are very misinformed. This guy arrived at what he thought was a press conference and he was under the impression that he was supposed to be taking headshots. He brought the gear for that and not much else.

    • Hobbyist

      So then you say you’re not ready or equipped for more than just head shots and either turn the job down or reschedule if possible. You don’t just “work with what you’ve got” if you’re a professional doing such important shots. That was just asking to give himself a bad rep and bad publicity. Bad move, very bad move.

    • It doesn’t matter the how or why. The photos are bad. Everyone takes bad pictures, but you don’t put the bad ones out there for everyone to see. There were other photographers there; they didn’t “need” his pictures, so it was his choice to publish them. I wouldn’t dub him a fauxtog because of this, but I would question his motives for doing it.

      • BurninBiomass

        I think he was there for AFP, meaning that he might have shot, and an editor decided to send out those pictures. I’m not positive on photojournalism (its not what I do), but I believe many times the photographer himself doesn’t decide on what is released.

      • So true: why post the bad ones at all???

    • I disagree. When you go on a shoot, you plan for contingencies. You plan for weather, for electrical outages, for extra shots, etc. You bring extra equipment. You meet with (or at least communicate by phone) the client to determine the client’s needs. Often, in fact, the client doesn’t know everything s/he the shoot will require; it’s your job to glean that information and educate. Also, if possible, you visit the shoot site before the event.

      • Kristina

        He was not simply “going on a shoot.” He was a PHOTOJOURNALIST who was told that he was going to shoot a press conference. As a photojournalist, you don’t typically tote around extra equipment (especially lighting equipment when he was told he was going to a press conference). Plus, as an Olympic event, he would likely NOT have had an option to visit the site ahead of time, or reshoot, as someone else mentioned.
        I blame the assigning editor, if anyone, in this case for passing along the wrong info to the photographer.

      • If you go to a press conference, you do not bring a studio flash set with you as a back up….

      • If I go anywhere for a shoot, I have a studio in a box in my trunk … always … backdrop system, 3 different backdrops, lightstands, small softboxes, umbrellas, snoots, couple of hotlights (500W daylight balanced) … it’s mostly a strobist kit (six YN460 II and a couple of hot lights) of course but better that than nothing.

        I’d also rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. If I don’t need it it’s in the trunk, if I need then … you guessed it … it’s just in the trunk and I can run outside and get it and be setup in under ten minutes.

      • Kristina

        You are not the norm.

      • There’s always excuses NOT to bring extra equipment – “oh Im just a photojournalist” or “oh I probably won’t need it”, but there’s only one excuse needed to bring it anyways – “Just in case”.

    • I also want to add that, even if the photog thought he’d be doing only head shots, there is no excuse for the elementary mistakes he made. Limb chops (these are Olympians; limbs are kinda important…), bad lighting, etc., are the marks of an amateur. Sure, everyone takes bad photos sometimes, but professionals quickly delete them before anyone else sees them.

    • “Joe had come armed with two cameras and three lenses (17-35, 70-200 and 300), plus one flash and a 12-inch laptop. To his horror, he saw upon arriving that his colleagues from other news agencies and media organizations had set up studio booths with professional lights, backdrops and prop assistants. ‘It was very embarrassing to find out that I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of a studio,
      Joe told us by email.” (from PetaPixel.com)
      Okay, he stated that, when he arrived, he saw that the other photogs had the proper equipment. How is it he’s the only photog who “didn’t get the memo”????

    • if he was under the impression that he was supposed to be taking headshots, then why were none of them headshots?

    • HE WAS USING LIGHTING IN THESE SHOTS…. There were already strobes set up…. /facepalm.

  6. Even my husband who knows jack about photography agrees these are some pretty bad shots. But after reading that the photographer is a photojournalist who attended the event prepared for a press conference sort of event, I’m willing to cut him a little slack.

    I would think most photojournalists aren’t expected to know anything about posing their subjects any more than most athletes would be expected to know about how to pose. Also, his supervisor (or agent, or whatever) should have gotten more information on the nature of the event and made sure the photographer came prepared OR found a photographer with more experience with that sort of work.

    As for the photographer’s biggest mistakes? For starters, he should’ve done some of his own research the moment he got that assignment. An internet search or a few phone calls might’ve guided him toward showing up better prepared. Having missed that opportunity, he should have recognized upon arrival that he was in over his head and stayed within the seemingly safe zone of high school yearbook portraiture. I would like to think maybe he could’ve solicited a few pointers and perhaps even borrowed a light stand or spare backdrop from one of the other photographers present.

    I think this whole fiasco comes under the category –Mistakes were made–Lessons were learned–

    • Any monkey with a simple bounce flash could have gotten better shots

      Lack of preparation is not only no excuse, but not even a valid reason in this case. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you can just simply bounce a flash to get nice soft light suitable for portraits. What photographer needs a slew of Elinchrom lights just to get decent portraits indoors?

      Trying to use this amateurish off camera lighting

  7. BurninBiomass

    I looked at all of what he shot, and there were a couple I liked.

    One thought is that perhaps for knowing he didn’t have the best equipment setup, he got overly ambitious. I personally would have pulled back on the “creative” and worked on getting acceptable shots (working within the limitations), HOWEVER, he might have been told to get something unique and not just document (which very well might be the case). In which case he took some chances (not all of which worked out).

    I think the concept that the US Team put forward invited failure. I have a studio, and I do Team and Individual sports shoots. T&I shoots are usually built around speed of getting players thru the system, so there is low creativity, I only have a couple poses, lighting is good but simple (and this product is priced accordingly). When I send out peoples images, there is a card saying if they want something more creative, please book a session in my studio where I can take time and work more with the player and lighting.

    I think the US Team tried to get photographers combine the speed of a T&I shoot and the creativity of a longer studio shoot and got mixed results (or the photographers themselves tried to get overly creative given space and time, again, I don’t know the full situation). I have seen another photographers work from this same shoot, and the images are good to marginal.

    In the end I think this is part on the photographer, part on the editor (who should be culling bad shots, even if that is most of them) and more on the US Team for a bad situation. (and again, this opinion is based on still not knowing the situation better, I may change my mind upon finding out more).

  8. They are not even bad shots – I like them. Better than the usual oh so boring head shots or whatever we see. He didn’t screw up, they’re good shots.

    • I have to agree with you, some big names go through a lot of trouble and use masses of hi-tech kit to make vey similar shots…

  9. Oh yes, the torn paper, shots clearly off the background, ridiculous shots of professional athletes who represent our country, but please, continue making excuses for him.
    Let me guess, you would make excuses for Terry Richardson, too. SMH.
    I am not buying his defense http://www.petapixel.com/2012/07/06/photographer-joe-klamar-explains-his-controversial-olympic-portraits/. A little research and a few questions would have benefited him immensely, as well as some creativity. The same eye we use as a photojournalist would give you an edge over standard, conventional portrait photographers, especially in this situation. Think outside the box, just a little.

    I am a little more than perturbed that so many feel it acceptable to defend this hackneyed attempt at photography, and even more disgusted that Joe would attempt to make excuses for his facetious photographs. Admit you f*cked up, and move along.

    This is EXACTLY the type of stuff that should be on YANAP. Just because he is a lead photographer for AFP doesn’t automatically exclude him from criticism. The photographs are deplorable, and are published for public viewing.

    Yes, these are definitely different than the standard, hum-drum headshots that most did from the event, (note: not all the shots from the NOC press release were shot by Joe, just the horribly bad ones) but they aren’t good or even edgy. You want edgy, then do it on a separate shoot, not the PRESS PHOTOS for the Olympic athletes.

  10. Snappy

    LOL @ the runner’s picture with the backdrop rack showing…

    Any photog worth this salt would have looked at most of these images and said “OMG this is crap, I can’t use this,” and chalked this one up to a loss. Taking the hit for this one is better than letting out bad material and having your rep damaged.

    • I like the runner one, reminded me of a track disappearing into the distance behind him.

    • The runner one can be saved by a retoucher.

      • Photojournalists don’t retouch. Anything other than levels adjustment is pretty much an instant firing. While that probably wouldn’t happen on these, photoshop is generally not a skill set photojournalists need to learn (nor is posing people as evidenced 🙂

  11. robert

    Compared them to the German team, and I must say that the creative ideas of this ‘fauxtog’ are much stronger than the others. Perhaps born out of necessity, I don’t know.
    I would love to see some these shots with proper (lighting) equipment.
    I concede that the misunderstanding of the intent and possibilities was a major botching up, but at least the photographer was (in theory) capable of doing this line of work. A real fauxtog does not have the skills. This one “just” majorly blundered. And he *must* deliver at least a few shots of *every* athlete, no matter what. So he (or his editor) picked the least bad ones.
    I must say I feel for the guy to have his career negatively impacted like this. He’ll always be the one who shot the 2012 Olympics, no further explanation needed in the photo-journalistic circles. I’m sure he knows he could have done *much* better than that.

  12. These disappoint, I must admit, but I’m not shocked.

    My own weird rant:

    US residents aren’t allowed to see the official Olympics shop site. Every time you try, you’re forced to go to “Team USA”‘s website, which doesn’t sell all the products.

    At this point, I don’t want to see anything to do with the Team USA company again for as long as I live. I’m so tired of trying to go to a website I should be able to access only to find myself looking at this lame navy Ralph Lauren gear. Hand to god, I thought the site was *hacked* at first and that Team USA was some scam.

    Then we found out that all these uninspired outfits were made in China. And now we have uninspired pictures. I just hope our athletes are more impressive than their gear!

    P.S. I’m going to the Olympics. Whee!

  13. Pelham

    Point #1: I think it’s only fair to pin some of the blame on the organizers of this fiasco. If they weren’t such cheap bastards, and had just hired someone reputable as opposed to chumming the water with Olympians and send out a cattle call to every photojournalist/sports photographer they could think of, they might have got some good shots.

    Point #2: So wtf are all the other photogs’ pics?! If there were so many of them, where the hell are their images from this selfsame, so-called shoot (aka buttf**k supreme)?

    • Point #1 – The photographers were all there representing news organizations – I don’t think that any of them where freelancers – unless they were credentialed by someone. The organizers (USOC) didn’t do this as a money grab – they did it to get publicity shots of their stars.

      Point #2 – Do a google search – you’ll find them – there are a ton of them out there – I know that one of the Dallas photographers who was there even posted a behind the scenes look at the setups and goings on.

  14. Dawcin Thomas

    Very few people here know the facts. There is a lot of here-say being re-reported.

    Here is the link to the Team USA Media Summit in Dallas, Texas:

    This event took place over three days and there was plenty of time to plan since this was announced in February 2012.

    The photographer can say what ever he wants and justify his photographs but fact still remains that that his end product was not very good. Should this person be mentioned on this site? That is debatable since there are so many other “pretend” photographers who should have been listed here first.

  15. Another photographer’s pic from the same event. Shows what a little preparation can do: http://totallycoolpix.com/2012/05/team-usa-olympic-profiles/

  16. Lucas Jackson, Nick Laham, and Toni L. Sandys all did photos at the same event, and all did much better work. Google ’em. Or Bing ’em if you prefer.

    Lucas Jackson, in particular, wrote an essay about the struggles of the event and how he overcame it.

  17. Wsroadrunner

    Utter crap.

  18. This has been out there for at least 2 months now – my take on it (even after readying the excuse he offered) is:

    1) Joe is a very accomplished photojournalist and sports shooter – He is very good at capturing the moment. However, that is a very different skill set than capturing a personality in a meet and greet / cattle call.

    2) If he wasn’t aware of the setup – ie – each photographer given a 8×10 space and whatever they wanted to do in 4-5 minutes – then how did other photographers know in advance about it? Does anyone really believe that 40 news photographers from around the world all carry studio gear in their trunks? Really? I don’t know of any…

    3) If you’re given lemons make lemonade – to me it looks like he got there – saw the setup – got po’d and said – this isn’t what I thought it would be – so I’m mailing this in. A photographer of his stature and reputation – should have contacts in every major city that he could call and get gear on short notice – Also very hard to believe that NPS or Canon – wasn’t at the event with a ton of gear for people to use. Even as a last resort – there should have been a rental store or camera shop – after all – I’m sure he has a corp card or two that he could have used.

    Do his images belong here? Probably not – based on his body of work and the fact that he isn’t a PWC who thinks they are better than they really are and only produces a good image by accident.

    • 1- You are correct … it is a different skill set but you;d think that an established photographer would have at least a basic understanding of portraiture.

      2- Whenever I go to a shoot, I have a Strobist kit in my trunk all ready to go including a backdrop system. Never know when you’ll need it and it’s juts one small suitcase and 2 small duffle bags.

      3- “to me it looks like he got there – saw the setup – got po’d and said – this isn’t what I thought it would be – so I’m mailing this in.”

      If I was his editor/employer or the person who got him the invite and found out he PURPOSEFULLY flubbed the shoot … I’d fire him on the spot. He would never work for me ever again.

      The Olympics are every 4 years and only a handful of invites were sent out for this shoot … that is one hell of a wasted opportunity because the photographer couldn’t adapt or was too much of a prima-donna to swallow his pride and get the job DONE.

      4- Do these images belong here? ABSOLUTELY … it doesn’t matter what he’s done before, these images here are a perfect example of horrible photography. We’re not judging him, we’re judging the poor work he submitted.

      It’s a nice change of pace for this site actually, normally all you see are Facebook photographers on here.

      • I agree whole-heartedly, Eric. This is a fiasco and should be discussed. Just because he jockeyed his way to the top of his particular agency doesn’t make him untouchable for criticism. In fact, most of his attempts at photojournalistic shots are average, at best. I know many in his profession who are far better than he. It’s not difficult if you understand movement and angles to get good shots of the things he shoots.
        Granted, it’s not the run-of-the-mill insanity that we are accustomed to seeing on this site, but I feel that it’s still worth debating. Just because some feel that his work isn’t, as a whole, similar to the rest of the fodder we typically see, it’s still horrible and is inexcusable.

  19. gmanoftx

    I had a friend at this event. He was brought in by another friend for the shoot. ESPN and others had huge spaces and sets. My friend had want they could dig up. It was a very big event. A lot sports shooters may not have the best studio chops.

  20. Ok so I’m ready to argue the other side of the story now … I still think it was unprofessional of him to not be aware of what the event would entail but I’ve seen some more of the images from that shoot and not all of them are bad, some of them are pretty interesting actually.

    They aren’t what I would have shot … I’d have gone for a less patriotic version of this:

    But some of his other shots were quite decent. You should all ready this article on this “debacle” and look at some of the other images Joe captired (way at the bottom).

  21. Can we wipe out any idea that this guy was being arty or making a statement or challenging perceptions or any of that crap. He’s a press pack snapper that simply had not clue with studio lighting and ballsed it up. In a way he got found out – not even a basic idea of lighting principles, posing, getting a good response from your subject. You can be a very good press-packer but pretty artless at ‘staged’ photography.

  22. Wsroadrunner

    Obviously the tog has never bothered to read 4 USC § 8 paragraphs b) and d)… I guess I won’t bother to send in a donation to the Olympics anymore….

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