A dedicated team of Getty Images photographers are working around the clock to deliver all those breathtaking photos of the Winter Olympics. Six of them share their favorite photos from the first week and take us behind the scenes of the world’s biggest spectacle.
Our weekly roundups of the best sports photos from Getty Images are some of the most interesting features you’ll find here on FanSided, particularly because of the insights and detailed commentary provided by the photographers who actually took them.
Here six photographers from their Olympic team share some of their favorite shots and share about the experience of trying to photograph the best athletes in the world.
Winter Olympics Y Zone – Adam Pretty (YANQING, CHINA)
I have been primarily shooting at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, covering all sliding events, including skeleton, monobob and luge. I always try to add a few layers to my sports images, and aesthetics is one of the first things I look at. I look to find a nice background or location, frame up my shot and wait for the action and/or emotion to arrive in the frame. Some moments are just moments or reactions of athletes, but I still make sure to set myself up in what I think will be the best possible scenario to have a nice canvas for when something might happen. I always want to give myself the best chance to capture a visually stunning picture, so I try to get creative a possible, especially while covering a sport with similar variations.
I love the pure emotion on the athletes faces and their body language during competition, it’s pretty rare nowadays to be fortunate to witness and capture such great emotions in one place. The Olympic Games really draw out the emotions of teams and athletes competing for their countries on another level, so it’s something I look forward to capturing throughout competition.
I’ve enjoyed following the same venue and sport from start to finish, because you can really try and tell the whole story and capture some imagery that otherwise you might miss or skip over if you were only covering the venue for a day or so. The architecture at this venue is great — it makes it tough for pictures during the day as it is all covered but it is one of the nicest tracks I have seen, and it shows that the venues in Beijing have really been thought about in design and aesthetic terms, and they’re not just to be purely functional.
Nicholas Timmings of Australia gets off to a good start during a men’s skeleton training session on day four of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Sliding Center in Yanqing, China.
Yooran Kim of Team Korea slides during Women’s Monobob training on day seven of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Sliding Centre on February 11, 2022, in Yanqing, China.
Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Team Germany react after winning the gold medal in the Luge Doubles on day five of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Sliding Centre on February 9, 2022, in Yanqing, China.
Winter Olympics Y Zone – Sean Haffey (YANQING, CHINA)
I am working with a very talented team of photographers at the Beijing Olympics covering Alpine Ski racing exclusively. The courses are very steep, incredibly icy, and precarious. As photographers, we ski on course for some races, and others we shoot outside of the netting since we are not allowed on course. Unlike other Olympics, this course has very limited shooting positions. We are forced to scout new positions off course to make visually appealing images that tell the story of each particular race. We arrived in China many days before the races started and skied the race area extensively in order to be prepared for covering each race. Like us, the racers had never seen the courses prior to the start of competition.
The first day of Men’s Downhill training saw many of the racers launching off the first jump. Stefan Rogentin of Team Switzerland flew off course making a dramatic image, my favorite of the Games so far. Straight action is important but showing the beauty of the races set in a mountain scenery is also very important and I chose to show this in a shadowy section of the course. I chose to capture the world’s best skier, Mikaela Shiffrin, in a steep, tougher section of the course that has elegant shadows to convey the intensity and beauty of the moment. This is my ninth Olympics, and I have seen so many winners, but I always am taken aback by those that train and compete for four years all for their one moment to shine. When that doesn’t happen, it is heartbreaking to see the anguish they must be going through. I shot this image of Irish downhill skier Jack Gower after he missed a gate and was unable to finish the race. As you can see, he was gutted.
Stefan Rogentin of Team Switzerland skis during the Men’s Downhill first training session ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Alpine Ski Centre on February 3, 2022, in Yanqing, China.
Jack Gower of Team Ireland reacts after he is unable to finish his run during the Men’s Super-G on day four of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Alpine Ski Centre on February 8, 2022, in Yanqing, China.
Mikaela Shiffrin of Team United States skis during the Women’s Downhill third training on day 10 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Alpine Ski Centre on February 14, 2022, in Yanqing, China.
Winter Olympics B Zone – Harry How (BEIJING, CHINA)
I have a bit of variety during the first week of these Winter Games which I really prefer as it keeps me sharp and more engaged than if I was shooting the same sport over and over. Curling is a slow sport and rather challenging to make an interesting picture, so I used an extra slow shutter to emphasize motion. Both hockey and speed skating are quick sports, but different in that one sport is very erratic and unpredictable while the other is very linear.
The challenge for hockey, at least for me, is to get something different and away from the usual action as it’s a sport I normally cover a great deal. I don’t usually use a wide-angle lens at the glass like I did here, but I was hoping to show the Olympic rings and the unusual occurred when the puck kicked up over the players heads and they both tried to play it with their hands.
As for speedskating, the beautiful roof line and lights were my inspiration for this picture. The hardest part of these Games has been COVID restrictions, which are much stricter than in Tokyo as we remain in a bubble the entire length of our stay. Eating a nice meal and experiencing the local culture is a huge part of the Olympic Games, so it’s disappointing to not be able to go to a local restaurant or shop and only see it from the transport.
Dean Hewitt of Team Australia sweeps as Tahli Gill of Team Australia directs against Team Sweden during the Curling Mixed Doubles Round Robin ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at National Aquatics Centre on February 4, 2022, in Beijing, China.
Huier Huang of Team China and Aneta Tejralova of Team Czech Republic reach for a puck in the air in the third period during the Women’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B match at Wukesong Sports Centre on February 3, 2022, in Beijing, China.
Team ROC skate during a training session at the National Speed Skating Oval prior to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on January 30, 2022, in Beijing, China.
Winter Olympics B Zone – Matthew Stockman (BEIJING, CHINA)
Covering the Olympics is a privilege and one of the top assignments for a sports photographer. We have just passed the halfway point of the Games and overall, I would say my experience has been really positive. The venue I am assigned to is the Capital Indoor Stadium, home to Figure Skating and Short Track Speed Skating, with sessions alternating between the two. To prepare for each event, I research the competitors to educate myself on who may do what and to anticipate where I need to position myself to best capture the key moments of the competition.
To make engaging images you must understand and be engaged with the sport and the participants. It is not enough to understand the rules, you must know how athletes act, how they move and how they react when they compete. This comes from prior experience, and I draw on that every time I pick up my cameras. I really enjoyed covering the Men’s Figure Skating competition which just finished. I had photographed the incredible Nathan Chen three times prior (Skate America, Skate Canada, and Nationals) and knew he had a solid program coming into the Beijing Games. It was a terrific performance, and he really earned his gold medal. It was nice to be a witness to history and see this conveyed in my coverage.
Nathan Chen of Team United States reacts during the Men Single Skating Free Skating on day six of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 10, 2022, in Beijing, China.
Nathan Chen of Team United States skates during the Men Single Skating Free Skating on day six of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 10, 2022, in Beijing, China.
Gold medallist, Nathan Chen of Team United States celebrates during the Figure Skating Men Single Skating medal ceremony on Day 6 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Beijing Medal Plaza on February 10, 2022, in Beijing, China. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Nathan Chen of Team United States reacts to their score during the Men Single Skating Free Skating on day six of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 10, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Winter Olympics Z-Zone – Al Bello (ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA)
Photographing these Olympic Games has been a very challenging yet rewarding experience. I have been working in the Mountain area of Zhangjiakou, with many of the outdoor sports held here. The biggest challenge for us here as photographers has been battling against the extremely cold weather. On any given night the temperature can dip to -15F or -20F with a real feel of even lower. It’s so cold that our masks freeze from breathing into them, so we have to change them out a lot. We have been using lots of hot packs and heated vests to help but after working in the cold for 12-16 hours a day for almost a month it does take its toll.
For me personally it has been my fingers. The tips have split open and feel like a bunch of paper cuts, which can really hinder me when trying to press the buttons on my camera. Having said that we have all been doing our best and working hard every day here. No one has shied away from the task at hand which is to produce the best pictures possible here in Beijing.
Working the mountain region requires us to scout locations each day at the venues which often involve climbing the mountain with a set of crampons to prevent slipping or skiing to position. We trudge through the woods for the cross country or biathlon events, looking for spots that might make good pictures. We climb what seems like a thousand steep steps at the ski jump, looking for the best angles of peak action moments. The best part of the Olympics for me has been spending time and working with my Getty Images colleagues. You go through things like this together time and time again and form a lifelong bond of respect and friendship for one another.
Athletes compete during Nordic Combined Individual Gundersen Normal Hill/10km, Cross-Country Round at The National Cross-Country Skiing Centre on February 9, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.
An athlete performs a trick during the Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Qualification on Day 1 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Genting Snow Park on February 5, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.
Jan Hoerl of Team Austria competes during the Men’s Large Hill Individual Qualification round on day 7 of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at National Ski Jumping Centre on February 11, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.
Winter Olympics Z-Zone – Patrick Smith (ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA)
The Winter Games have been nothing but incredible thus far. Being new to winter sports, ever single jump, flip, turn, and aspect of the contests is new and fresh to my eyes. There are many challenges to photographing different sports each day. One is obviously the below zero temperatures that always feel much colder than they appear. This really tests your creativity, as well as your physical and mental well-being.
Once you’re able to mentally get past the cold, the biggest hurdle is not knowing the exact rules or formats to sports I’ve never watched let alone photographed previously. However, I think that has real advantages as what may be a mundane image to a seasoned winter sport photographer feels like a timeless, compelling moment to myself. My approach for our team is to always bring a unique visual aesthetic to each competition and try and get something new and eye-catching for viewers at home.
I am positioned in Zhangjiakou so have been covering snowboarding, biathlon, cross-country, and freestyle skiing. Shaun White is obviously one of the biggest names in Winter sports ever. I knew I wouldn’t be covering Shaun White in the finals due to my schedule, so I wanted to make an image that really stood out. This layered image during warmups was one that did that job.
To an outsider, seeing the shell casing from a bullet in a biathlon event is an extraordinary image. However, it’s rather routine image. With some luck and the right scouting with the proper gear, I was able to get an image where the shell casing almost hits the athlete in the eye — a close up, intimate moment to freeze in time. Another sport I’d never seen prior to this, was freestyle skiing moguls. I decided to approach the sport with risk. That meant when the athletes passed and jumped off a second jump, I stayed on a very tight lens to get the emotion in their eyes. While everyone wasn’t shooting, I continued to try and better this image until I had an athlete with clear googles that allowed me to tell the story.
Anri Kawamura of Team Japan competes during the Women’s Freestyle Skiing Moguls Qualification during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Genting Snow Park on February 3, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.
Simon Desthieux of Team France shoots during zeroing as he competes during Men’s Biathlon 10km Sprint at National Biathlon Centre on day 8 of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on February 12, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Shaun White of Team United States performs a trick on a practice run ahead of the Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe Qualification on Day 5 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Genting Snow Park on February 09, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.