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1. In search of Frederick Bigler.......

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‘To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition,

in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event

as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that

event its proper expression’. 

Henri Cartier-Breeson – The Decisive Moment (1952)

 

They say that a photograph is a witness, but a witness of something that is no more. It’s a moment of this subject’s existence that was photographed, and this moment is now gone. Each viewing of a photo - and there are billions worldwide in a day - each perception and reading of a photo is implicitly a contract with what has ceased to exist.

For an athlete there is no defining moment in their life than the Olympic Games. For four or more years, the Games consumes their life, and the scenario of body and mind competing in the Games is monotonously but importantly played over and over again. A forecast of moments in which they will anticipate, react to, and live when the set day of competition arrives. The same moments that I must try to anticipate, react to, and live when they are presented to me.

And photographs are part of a mental process, the result of an interaction between photographs and viewing subjects. Images are products of what is perceived and thought, both consciously and unconsciously, but looped in a spiral of relationships which are continuous - a continuum. So time, in this loop, does not rely on the movement of a clock but is instead located in the physical space, thus resulting in the moment depicted in the photograph.

A photograph 'fixes the moment' of an event. In that moment, the photograph preserves what the eye might otherwise not capture. The idea that a photo can capture a moment in time happens to be a specific statement born out of, and sustained by our conceptions of what is to be being represented.

 The question asked here is not what the difference is between the real moment and the photograph but to what degree, if any, the photograph can blur or eliminate the between of what was seen and what is now being depicted in the photograph. Clearly what is of interest to an observer of a photograph is the way in which the observer can see that moment torn from a continuum, and not as a manipulation of time.

As a sports photographer, my work will constantly revolve around each one of these set moments. There will be many. But unlike the athlete, I will have little control over the biology of that moment. And so vision and reflex becomes my key focus.

And the moment of the photograph can never be repeated, which is at the heart of the nostalgia which is felt for the events or people depicted.

So herein lays the essence of why I chose to be a sports photographer. My world is about moments - quick fleeting moments that are otherwise missed - but brought into existence by the physical photograph. And the moments are many, the moments are quick, and the moments all exist with different biologies to each other. The biology is determined by the vision and portrayal that the photographer judges as being part of its outer skin. The sports photographer puts a little of his own self into his grand vision, and ultimately the exhibition of that captured moment.

The images chosen for the exhibition are just that, images that have part of my DNA imbedded, consciously or unconsciously, into the physical. I am not an athlete. I haven’t felt first hand how and what the athlete feels when competing at such an elite level. The DNA that I place in my images is how and why I see things through my personality. And that personality, is humour, is darkness, is form, and will be shaped by how I feel that day, how fatigued I am, my hunger, my hours of sleep, my life experiences, my friends, my yearning to be at home and its comforts, or how my work has progressed through the 14 days of competition.

For I know I am blessed. For I witness and record a special time in these athletes lives. A time which impacts and shapes their present and future. Time that swings from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Or time that swings from one end of the physical spectrum to the other.

And as soon as there is a spectator for the photograph, the photograph and moment exists.

 

Delly Carr

Mozzie Mozzie Mozzie Oi Oi Oi 5

My 8th Olympics.

So was Rio 2016 my favourite? No.

Was this my least favourite of the 8 ? Most likely.

It’s going to take a week or so to let this Olympics sink in properly. I might have in fact had a memorable experience, but without knowing it at the time.

There was a definite divide between those of us who turned up in early August, to those who have lived on this land for many generations. The people of Brazil don’t need to change, they don’t need to speak English, nor change the way they live their daily lifes.  We working tourists need to fit in and live like they do, to eat their food, learn a little basic Portugese, or even learn to dance a few steps of the Samba.

From my perspective it seemed that the Olympic movement was forced onto them, and many resented that in different ways. So we as the Media stayed wholly and enclosed under the safety of the Olympic Bubble, never venturing out past the high security fencing of our Media Village or the Sporting Venues. We saw and experienced nothing. Our mistake ? Not sure.

Theft. Guns. Bullets fired at Media buses and Media Acccomodation. Stones thrown at these same buses speeding through the poorest of neighbourhoods, where a magnificent sporting venue had been built and stood glistening in stark contrast to the reality of that neighbourhood.

A military force that was imposing and threatening.

A military force that aggressively detained me, confiscated my camera and phone, had me seated with hands on head for 2 laps of the Womens' Olympic Triathlon Run for being on the field of play, when in all right I had the the proper accreditation and ‘privileged’ Green photographers jacket to do so. I thank the elderly lady from the nearby drink station seeing that I was in need, came over, translated and explained to these clowns in Camo why I was there and convinced them to at least call to get the Media motorbike to come pick me up.

Miltary Security with big guns, and little penises.

I am not here to mock or ridicule Brazil. Far from it.

They also did a lot of things right. A lot. There was also some genuine personal touches that made our days.

In my world as a photographer, Brazil had their chance, and they blew it. Enough said.

Olympics is, and should be all about the athlete. Nothing more. This isn't about me.

But there are memories that I take home with me …..

* We’re all brave until we realise there’s a mosquito in the room.

* I’ve got a better chance finding a unicorn than I do of going through an entire day without dealing with some jackass NBC Cameraman.

* It was a dilemma I had from the Day 1. Each Insect Repellant spray bottle holds 125ml of liquid. 6 hours of protection per squirt session. That’s 4 sprays per day. To be safe to be sure, let’s make it 5 spray sessions a day. Body coverage height was just under 170mm. Do I spray fully clothed, semi clothed, naked ? Here in Rio for 22 days. Extra safe protection = double the squirt. Squirting during open sunlight and warm air temperature told me that there would be a skin surface evaporation variable to factor into the equation. I was never good at Maths at school. In fact I sucked. 

So I simply smuggled a 5 litre drum of insect repellant into my village room just to make sure.

4.99 litres still remain in the bathroom back at Barra 3.

* The more caipirinha you drink, the better you are at Portugese.

* Those who stayed within the Olympic Bubble  ate very poorly. A chance blown by Brazil to highlight the amount of diverse and tasty food that feeds this land. Not once did I see or sample feijoada. No beans, No rice. No Churrasco. The Media who were feared by the tales of street violence or petty theft, ate a poor mans breakfast at their village, and a selection of western slop at the Main Press Centre that made airline food look like a 3 star Michelin Restaurant meal.

Western Buffet slop that was weighed at the cash register at $45 a kilo.

Another chance blown.

* Loved their coffee though. Thick Muddy Smoky. Sticks to the roof of your mouth. Couldn't get enough. Why a coffee IV has not been invented is beyond me. What is modern science so busy with ?!!?

* The buses that transported us were new, clean, plentiful, always on time, fast, and drum roll please …… they were equipped with free WIFI. It was a masterstroke service by Rio2106. Especially for those who wanted to continue working during the 90minute journey to the Athletics Stadium, check out the likes on their Instagram account, or when one simply wanted to contact family at home. That time was not wasted.

* Days 12 13 14 15 of the Games was spent in Copacabana next to the Triathlon Venue. My last night was the evening when Brazil wins the Gold against Germany in Football. An amazing night as Via Atlantica filled with cheering, dancing, car horns a’blowing, and gunshots fired into the night sky. As my Brazilian friend told me, the national sport of Brazil is not Olympics, it was Football.

* Sanitarios Masculinos is the sexiest way to pronounce Mens Toilet.

* I was so fortunate to work with the best Media people on the planet. Kathleen, Hanso, Brett, Erin, Chelsea and Janos. 

* Cate Campbell blowing me a kiss from the Medal Position. The 4x200 Australian Mens Medley Relay Team walking into the Photographers pit to High 5 me, saying ‘Yo Da man’. Gwen Jorgensen walking off the Triathlon Medal Dias with her Gold Medal, coming at me with a crushing hug, and whispering in my ear ‘Look what I’ve just done’. 

My photography does make a difference to these athletes, and they let me know in their own sweet way. Chicken Soup for the Soul.

* Swimming Australia’s coaches and support staff coming over to see me at the photographer’s pit to simply say Hello or check if I needed something.

* My worldwide Triathlon family of the ITU made me feel cozy and loved in my final days spent at Copacabana. They are truly my ‘second family’.

* I take the "L" and "R" on my headphones way too seriously.

* The first time I hear Peter Allen’s ‘I go to Rio’ song is Day 9 at the fencing, just after the completion of the Italy v Ukraine Team Epee Semi Final. It was followed by Kenny Loggin’s ‘Footloose’. The memories of University come flooding back.

It was also the last time I would hear it.

Never heard Barry Manilow’s ‘Copacabana’ throughout the Games. Gutted.

‘The Girl from Ipanema’ I heard twice. At the Opening Ceremony, and the the last song in the Taxi to the airport to come home. My Rio experience bookended by that one song.

* Last year, Wagner from Sao Paulo, told me that it was good luck to drink Capairinha by the glass, in odd prime number quantity. So you would have to drink 1 3 5 7 11 glasses to avoid bad luck.

I believed what Wagner said and went to bed most nights in a hazy manner. He emailed me when I got home and told me that was a joke, not a custom.

This year I thought I would fool him and drink in even numbers. 2 4 6 8 etc. This year I went to bed most nights in a hazy manner.

* I’ve never been to a karate class, but every time I saw a mosquito, I turn into a black belt master.

* Gringos Fotografos. A closed group on Facebook consisting of the 14 Aussie photographers that had been accredited to Rio2016, and formed prior to the Games by Dave Hunt from AAP. A Facebook site where we would exchange ideas or information, ask for advise or to borrow a piece of equipment lost or stolen, pass on a comical photographer story or post a photo of one of the Gringos Fotografos' snapper sleeping on the job. We even complimented those who had pulled off a magical image from the day before.

We as a group made light comedy of the long tiring hours, we would sit and protect the cameras and laptops for another who needed to go to the bathroom. Take turns at coffee runs. Aussie Photographers are indeed the best in the world, no doubt about it, and this group banded together to lighten the homesickness, lighten the aches and pains, put smiles on each others faces, and to pull the other one up when things were down.

I was proud to be a Aussie Gringo. We all were.

* In chatting with one of my photography idols mentor and friend, TimC mentions that if he died and every day thereafter was photographing an event at the Olympics, then he would truly know that he had died and gone to Heaven. Tim pretty much summed up my life in one sentence.

 

Till Tokyo 2020 ...... Mozzie Mozzie Mozzie Oi Oi Oi.

 

Mozzie Mozzie Mozzie Oi Oi Oi 4

It’s 1.55am in the morning, I’ve had a shower, poured myself a small gallon of wine, sitting cozily in my sexy new black Calvin Kleins, and editing the Swimming Finals images taken a few nights earlier.

My eyes are heavy and burning. My mid back is sore. I needed sleep.

But then I heard THE noise that no-one in Rio ever wants to hear.

I stopped typing, sat motionless, held my breath, and wondered if I was just overworked and delirious.

Then I heard it again. In the right ear.

I started to sweat. My heart beat faster and heavier. I couldn't breath. I felt like a helpless victim in a Halloween horror movie.

Then I chillingly heard it again. Bzzzzzzzz. Its third flyby. Left ear this time.

A MOSQUITO WAS IN MY ROOM !

I sat frozen in my chair and I began to ask myself silly questions trying to evaluate the seriousness of the situation I was in.

Was this a Zika mozzie or just Malaria ? How could I tell anyway, does not a mozzie just look like another mozzie ? Which one was worse ? 

Why was the recent Batman vs Superman movie so shit ?

When did I last apply my 6 hour protection insect repellant ? Shit, it was over 9 hours ago. My force shield was non-existent and I was vulnerable to attack. The spray was nowhere in easy reach.

Could I make the dash to the bed and cover myself head to toe under the blanket hoping it moves on to the neighbour’s room ? My neighbour was a Russian journalist, Vlad, much bigger than I, and I’m sure there was copious amount of Vodka in his Bloody Mary blood mix. 

As I irrationally contemplated the dire predicament I was in, my eyes locked on the mozzie. Mozzie was now on my computer screen, landing smack bang in the middle of Cate Campbell’s face.

Option 1: Punching the Mac screen with my fist would only end up with a broken screen rendering my hand and my Mac useless for the rest of the Games.

Option 2: Could I spray it with the insect repellant ? It’s just a repellant, not an exterminator, I would only repel it away from my radar lock sight.

Option 3: Perhaps I could spray a whole bottle of Windex on Mozzie ? That would surely kill it, and I would have the cleanest computer screen in Rio. Bonus. Two birds with one stone.

But who packs a bottle of Windex in their suitcase ? Sadly I did not. (Private message me if you do because I would like to know why).

At least I knew where Mozzie was. I felt like Rambo in the Vietnam jungle. I now became the Hunter and not the Hunted.

Being the coward I really am, I decided I would Usain Bolt for the bed and hide under the covers. As I slowly took my hand off the computer mouse, the screen cursor moves, and the Mozzie is startled and flies out of sight.

I then stop my run for the bed. Not knowing where Mozzie was, I might accidentally cover us both under the blanket, and the mass murderer would have all night to drain every single drop of my blood replacing it with a Zika Martini.

Frozen in my seat again, I then felt Mozzie land on my body. My worst fear faced me head-on.

Mozzie was on my lap. We’l let me elaborate, Mozzie is on my lap and towards centre. Politely then I shall write, Mozzie had landed on my man-parts. I would be ‘nuts’ to tell you the exact location.

Panic sets in. I had no time to Google ‘Can a Brazilian Mosquito bite through a $35 pair of 2016 Calvin Kleins?’ 

I was then faced with the hardest decision I have had to make in my entire life. Do I meet this enemy with brute violent force, or use UN style negotiation skills to talk Mozzie into full evacuation and withdrawal from that region ? As I could not speak Mosquito, and Mozzie could not speak Human, I was left with only one course of action. It’s 2.05am on Monday August 15 2016, silent peaceful and dark throughout Brazil, and a haunting scream could be heard throughout the Media Village 3.

Mozzie Mozzie Mozzie Oi Oi Oi 3

Hi Mosquito. Nice Mosquito. Let me pet you. With my shoe ! Haha Mosquito. Dead Mosquito.

Its Day 5, and the cooling misty rain sets in. Our Media village is set amongst rocky mountains and light tropical rainforest of Rio. Fog envelopes the tops of the mountains. The forest sparkles with every drop of water.

I now have a small glimpse of the infinite beauty of this land. For those who know me well, the solitude of the mountains, the mist and the fog keep calling me. Maybe someday that’s where you will find me. This morning I am at peace within this land. Finally.

My shitty poor false start to these games is no more. My confidence just changed. I can and will turn this around. To be the best I can be. Funnily enough, the fog and rain has made me robust strong and invincible.

I then run for the bus that’s about to leave for the Main Press Centre, slip on the wet tiles and fall on my arse. Good start Superman !

The Rio Olympics has now calmed and the squillion journalists and photographers are in routine. Rio2016 is also in ‘bandaid’ mode. Things went wrong for all of us during the opening stanza of the games, but these tiny open wounds are being covered by Rio2016 adhesive bandages, and the organising committee pray that there is enough adhesive to last till day 15.

Everything is sore now. Calfs, shins, thighs, back, shoulders, neck. Lactate is setting in. Stepping out of bed is partnered with a lot of ‘old man’ groans. Showers are getting longer. But I know that in a few days time, the aches pains and lactate are replaced by the necessary foto-fitness to get us through the Games.

The brain is softening though. Long days. No food. A haze of purple vague clouds our routine and logic. Leaving things behind at the venue. Forgetting things back in your room. Can’t find your phone (it’s right next to you stupid). Why doesn't my Visa card work ? When did I last eat ? All 2000 photographers do it. They would be lying if they didn’t.

I find myself standing in a ‘broken down’ elevator for 5 minutes hoping and praying in a panic that someone will find me someday, then realising I haven’t pressed a floor button yet.

I have only just noticed that my shower towel hook has been installed upside down in my bathroom. A hook installed upside down is as useless as an ashtray on a motorbike.

So many feelings today. Mostly hunger.

For some unknown reason at this Olympics, there is no McDonalds in the Main Press Centre. It’s always a perfect fallback when we feel homesick, or simply need a cleansing overdose of salt and sugar.

On Day 5 the Aussie photographers spot a Maccas not far from the Olympic Pool. Within walking distance. So in true ‘Chariots of Fire’ style, the dash is on to get there. Only to find a menu that couldn't satisfy. It only sells ice-cream. Sundaes or cone. Our hearts and stomachs drop. 

Photographers are still being targeted by petty thieves. Dear IOC, I thank you for making us wear these horrid offensive tan vests that shine like a beacon for the thieves. Just when you start to feel secure and comfortable, another theft story hits the foto airwaves. We all take turns minding each others gear. We have to pack and take our gear and laptops with us to the bathroom if no-one you can trust is in close vicinity.

Thieves have snuck onto buses while the driver takes a smoko. They sit quietly on the bus but then make a grab and dash at the next stop. Thieves that are in a non-public ‘secure’ accredited area. Without any accreditation pass around their neck. Yep. Defies all logic.

Day 8, and it’s my last night of shooting Swimming. Its been an 8 day Lane 4 Medley of emotion, highs, lows, and laughs.

My aquatic medley began a month ago. I became a member of the Australian Dolphins Swim Team and accompanied them to the USA for their final training camp before heading over to Rio. I had no restrictions or boundaries as to what I could photograph. Best gig ever. I got to know the athletes, coaches and support staff so much more. And they got to know me. I have made new Dolphin friends. When I get home, I can finally throw out my DVD box set of Flipper reruns.

And now I’ve been with them for 8 days in Rio. This time I could only watch through my big glass lens, about 40 metres away.

Through my 600mm lens I get a closeup view.

I got to learn a little about each athlete’s personality, observing and photographing them in Alabama. So I tried to match their Olympic day with what little I knew about each one.

Emma McKeon’s emotional ride through the 4x100m freestyle gold as she tried so hard to hold back tears of surprise love and joy. Brianna’s bright wide open eyes that reflected her nervous first Olympic experience. The boyish smile and giggle from Kyle Chalmers when he walked out in his first heat and absorbed the sights and sounds of an Olympic stadium. Like a kid in a candy store. The piercing war eagle eyes and puffed up chest of Jacob Hansford, first timer but ready to take on the biggest swimming challenge head on.

The athletes also got to know me in Alabama. As they stood on the winners medal podium here in Rio, they would look for me in the photographers pit, wave, smile, or show me their medal for a Delly exclusive selfie.

Mack Horton pushed the escort and Silver medallist another 5 metres from the designated medal position on their Medal walk, so that he could stand in front of me and look deep into my lens and not the other 299 other snappers. The other three Aussie News snappers broke out in racous laughter as Mack made his shove move.

I photographed Kyle Calmers for my book project whilst he chased virtual Pokemon on the Uni grounds in Alabama. 2 weeks later, and on Night Whenever, he becomes the fastest swimmer on the planet. Wow, simply wow.

Then the night that now slots into my Top 5 Sporting Moment of my 25 year photo-career. Cate Campbell. Through the 600mm I could see the disbelief in her eyes. Her 24/7 beaming smile isn't there. Her limp arms. Her competitors consoling her as she exited the pool. Her body language slumped and lifeless. Bronte is there to hug her sister, but with Cate leaning to one side and falling, Bronte hangs on. Cate’s legs cant hold up her drained body anymore. The stadium is silent. I can’t see through my lens anymore as small tears wells in my eyes. This was not supposed to happen.

Swimming Australia staff all hugging and consoling each other outside the stadium. We get back to the Media village at around 1.30am yet we spend the next 2 hours on chats and phone calls with Dolphins Team members and staff back home. Talking it all out. A night scripted with celebration for Cate was filled with heartbreak for one of the loveliest ladies you will ever meet.

My photograph of Cate being consoled by her medal winning competitors said so so much. Powerful and with so many messages, the newspapers back home are now running print stories about the photograph itself. Normally it’s the other way around.

Their online story about my photograph begins with the opening paragraph, “The Olympic pool has been at boiling point amid allegations of doping, bitter feuds and the re-opening of Cold War divides. This is the photo that captures the moment when humanity struck a blow in return.”

OK, maybe that's a little over the top. But I’ll take that as a pretty good compliment.

So I’m now off to save the world with my Nikon. Or shoot Fencing. I’ll decide when I get on the bus.

Delly

Mozzie Mozzie Mozzie Oi Oi Oi 2

Dear life, when I asked if this day could get any worse, that was a rhetorical question, not a challenge.

Night 1 at the Swimming, my aquatic goosebumps were at an all-time chlorine high. I had been at the Alabama training camp with the Dolphins for the past 2 weeks, I got to know them better, I had seen what it takes to win an Olympic medal, and now their time was about to come. We had Mack Horton (more about him later) and the 4x100m freestyle girls going for Gold tonight. And that they did. Woohoo. Australia lead the overall Medal tally.

But it wasn't my night. Technology fails me. The Wifi crashes. Big time. 200 photographers simply crash it with the work they were assigned to do. I can’t get the pics to the Melbourne Swim office to put images on their Social Media.

OK, I’m a professional, don’t panic, I have a Vodafone Hotspot, I’ll just use my personal data to push them through. I have since found out that Hotspots are banned and blocked in every Olympic Venue. 

Text messages from the Melbourne office keep coming in. They are there waiting for anything I can get to them. I can’t understand why my Vodafone Hotspot Plan B isn't working.

The sweat and stress levels were crushing all logic and reason. Had the photo tribune not been so cramped with photographers, this was the moment I would collapse onto the pool deck floor and crawl into a foetal position. Sobbing.

I went back to my room that night, a man broken.

I woke up the next day to find 1800 of the most hateful abuse all over my Social Media accounts. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook covered in verbal shitflings. And they were all from China. WTF.

It took me three days to delete and get the the filth under control. I’m only now receiving just a trickle of hate.

It kept coming for days, it was relentless. I had to change my social media handles. Block followers. Change my instagram to private settings. I was getting 100 requests an hour to follow me, and the requests were all from China. My 3 days at these Games were being sabotaged by circumstances way beyond my control.

OK, so let’s go back a step, a day earlier actually. Mack had mentioned that his Chinese opponent was not as ‘clean’ an athlete as he makes out to be. Mack then goes and wins Gold that night. His opponent gets Silver.

Mack asks me for some photos of his victory to put on his social media. I agree, he is a top bloke, a great hobby photographer, and friend. He respects my work and does the right thing tagging me on his Twitter and Instagram post.

Then shit hits the fan. Shit stamped with the badge ‘Made In China’, from all the fans of Mack’s Chinese opponent. And I don’t need to remind you that there are a lot of people in China.

So in their anger, they started firing verbal ballistic missiles at Mack. They retweet and reply to his post with language and expletives that I never knew existed. From another planet one wouldn't dare live on. I was under bombardment, being struck with explosive shrapnel from the hits Mack was having to endure. All because of my photoninja handle was on his comments and within their replies. It was a snowball rolling down a hill gaining momentum and size as it traveled.

I ducked for cover, and began deleting comments and blocking my new found Chinese followers. Then it became personal because I was blocking and deleting. The ‘Made in China’ missiles were now realigned and headed in my direction. Aimed at my heritage, my family, my sexuality, and so many more things.

I held my position and kept my head down in my ‘virtual’ bunker. EmmaJ in the UK pulled over on the A1 and sent me some Duck Face selfies to cheer me up. It did work, even though she sucked at duck. JulieK from Nikon called me when she saw the Chinese comments and made me laugh at its absurdity. And it was absurd. She then showed me where the Poop emoticon was on my iphone. Finally I smiled.

It was then that I felt a cool change coming. The southerly wind that blows in after a stinking hot summer day in Sydney.

Three absolute shitty days to start, but you know what, I still had 12 days to turn this around. I am here doing what I do best. Trying to produce some photo magic. Win lose or draw, that’s why I am here. It’s a challenge and a privilege.

So on Day 4 I respectfully avoid the Chinese food served at the Media Dining Hall buffet at lunchtime. Revenge was mine.

Read all about it, beware there is some rude stuff, and check all the dellyphotoninja tags ….. https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/sport/chinese-twitter-continues-to-dogpile-mack-horton--/086b072b-c2fa-46c9-82af-d1565e4f7a14.htm