Spectating at London 2012: Paralympics Closing Ceremony

My ticket for the London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony may be the best £100 I’ve ever spent. I can’t really explain how good this night was. Good company, amazing performances, a feel of celebration and appropriate closure, and the best send-off to an incredible summer. If I can’t explain it in written form, I can come a little closer with photos.

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Spectating at London 2012

Still sticking with the Olympic theme for at least one more post, as well as GamesMaking, I was very lucky to see a few events too. I’d come through the very first ticket ballot with tickets for athletics, and then at a much later date decided it wasn’t every day that the Olympics came to town and bought some for the Paralympics closing ceremony.

These photos of the first trip to Olympic Park and the athletics are not particularly remarkable, but again are memories. I would have liked them to be better, but you try getting nice crisp shots of sporting action when you’re a mile up in the Olympic stadium with lots of very excited people. Who often had flags. Anyway, fair warning: there are a lot of photos under the cut…

300mm, 1/500 sec, f7.1, ISO 800

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Olympic GamesMaking photos

So, a mere 3 months later, I finally share with you some of my Olympic photos. This post is devoted to photos which will not stand out technically, or in many cases even visually. These are all taken on my iPhone 4S and represent photos as memories – to me, it doesn’t matter that they’re perhaps the wrong speed, too grainy, slightly blurred and/or wonky. Besides, I couldn’t exactly turn up ‘at work’ with my 60D and lenses, tripod, flash, filter system etc. etc. So I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. But this means there’s a honesty to these photos – although some were fractionally enhanced using Snapspeed or Instagram, I will confess – because I took them without thought to “photography” and with the thought of, “I want to remember this”.



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London 2012 – a love letter to the Olympics and my time as a Games Maker: Part 3

Apologies for the break in service. Life and its many associated friends intervened for some time, as you may have noticed.

How can I accurately sum up being a Games Maker? It’s near impossible. From that first day, on the back of all the months of waiting and the training sessions and the doubts and worries and unknowns, it couldn’t have been clearer that the experience was going to be as good as I’d hoped. The first day passed in a flash: no matter how well trained you may be, there’s always an element of ‘in at the deep end’, although my first assignment (going on a break) turned out to be more of a paddle in the kiddies’ pool. What was my role? Well, about 80% of my entire time as a Games Maker was devoted to getting the spectating public to divest themselves of all their phones, keys, coins, wallets, belts, watches, liquids and jewellery into grey plastic trays which I pushed into the X Ray scanner. Just like the airport. Exciting? Not really. Fun? Surprisingly so. We worked with both the Army and a now-infamous private security firm, both of whom ran the machines, did bag and people searches that we were not qualified for. Naturally the Army were better at this by the nature of their profession, but most of the individuals I came in contact with from the other firm were people interested in doing their job well. Occasionally there would be a break from trays and I’d spend a bit of time out in the queuing area, handing out bags for coins and keys and enjoying a bit of banter with the public. It was the banter, wherever I was, that really kept us all going and it was rare to have anyone through who didn’t want to engage at all.  Continue reading

London 2012 – a love letter to the Olympics and my time as a Games Maker: Part 2

Finally, after once again bending the ears of all I came in contact with, the volunteer programme began to roll out and I applied on what I believe was the first day. Keen much? I had long ago stopped trying to be ‘cool’ about the whole process. But then the waiting began. The application period lasted, I believe, at least a month. There was then a period of a whole year for the staff on the Organising Committee to read through them all and start calling people in for ‘selection events’, ultimately interviews. I heard nothing for just over a year after putting my application in, and lots of other things going on in my life helped convince me that maybe it wasn’t a big deal. If I didn’t get to volunteer then so be it – I had secured some tickets to the athletics through the first ticket ballot (to my surprise!) so at least I would have an Olympic experience. But then one day in October 2011 an email dropped into my inbox inviting me to a selection event and made my whole week.

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London 2012 – a love letter to the Olympics and being a Games Maker: Part 1

Readers, I am going to ask that you indulge me for a post or two. Maybe more at the pace I am writing them. This may be a photography blog, as indicated by the subtle and imaginative title, but I have some writing I need to do. This is not to say there will not be the odd photo here and there, but for two weeks I took photos so they stood as memories rather than any form of art or technical ability.

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