New Workshop: Photographing Group Portraits!

News & Insight

Joe Klamar Explains His Controversial Olympic Photos

By fotosiamo on July 6th 2012

Badminton Tony Gunawan

After spending a week having his Olympic photos under scruntiny, AFP photographer Joe Klamar got a chance to tell the world his story of what happened at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit.

According to the AFP Blog post, Joe did not have prior knowledge that all the photographers at the Photo Summit were allowed to set up their own photo studios. He thought that it was more an event photography-type job, and therefore only brought along “two cameras and three lenses (17-35mm, 70-200mm and 300mm), plus one flash and a 12-inch laptop.” What he saw when he arrived was not what he expected at all:

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.

A press officer from the U.S. Olympic Committee took pity on Joe, and helped him convince another photographer to share booth space. “He of course had the priority, but he was really very kind, and let me take pictures. We slowly learned how to coexist and work side-by-side,” Joe recalled.

Although it didn’t explain why CBS chose to release these specific photos, at least we now know that Joe faced a nightmare scenario of not getting all the critical facts for a shoot and ending up having the wrong gear for the job.

His intention was not to cast a bad light on the Olympians.

Be sure to read the rest of the story at AFP Blog.

So readers, what are your opinions? Have you ever had to go through a nightmare scenarios like Joe and how did you handle it?


Joe is a rising fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs. Be sure to check out his work at and connect with him on Google Plus and on Facebook


Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for posting

    | |
  2. Ed Rhodes

    i wonder if there was bad blood somewhere in the agency, and the release was intentional

    | |
  3. the Tzetz

    guy’s get real. Joe is an professional news photographer, you guy’s are professional artistical idiots!

    | |
  4. Anonymous

    Poor Joe, had another bad day and can’t admit it. Poor angles, inability to use a flash properly, just like a lot of his other work if you go and look at it. Just Google the guy. Awful on many many jobs and he is AFP/Getty. shame shame shame.

    | |
  5. Mojo Jojo

    They are all pretty unimaginative. Lots of them are just athletes holding up an American flag for a background, while others look like Turkish prison photos. Wanna see a good sports shooter? Try

    | |
  6. John Howard

    We all have days when things don’t go as planned. It’s just that most us don’t have them put on public display afterwards.

    | |
  7. Adachi Pimentel

    Did his nerves get he best of him? this is a lesson I think that simplicity always works best in high stress situations like this one. With the equipment that he had, some nice portraits with one single light and even a makeshift reflector could have worked here. No need to criticize the man, I’m sure he’s thinking back on the situation and how he could’ve handled it differently, if he;s beating himself up, there’s no need for the rest of us to. We’ve all had situations where we regretted decisions made, in life and work. I’m sure he’s learned some lessons from all of this. But I don’t understand how these were allowed to be published?

    | |
  8. Christopher Michael

    Are you serious. This excuse is a amateur response, Like I heard this before many times in my life. Give me a nikon d40, SB -26 flash, and a 70-20 lens and I will show you a photo. A professional photographer has to be able to figure out the shot without complaining and blaming others. “JOE,” just take responsibility for your bad photos. You would have earned a lot of respect if you admitted you screwed up.

    | |
  9. RH

    That scenario does not justify torn backdrops, along with awful composition/posing. Waist up with the american flag behind them would have been better than any image he produced. Tennis racket in front of the face? Just poor decision making.

    | |
  10. Marcus

    why couldnt he bring one flash and a umbrela he would have made a heck of a job not this poor composition quality and i dont understand you have a car is i had a car and a lot of equipment i would bring it all with me i bought it i would use it all my lenses you never know

    | |
  11. Obi

    70-200 and a flash for an experienced photographer? … what more do you need?

    | |
  12. V

    Didn’t he have two lights? I thought I saw a photo with a blue gel and another was bare… Either way, I never leave home without extra equipment.sure he didn’t need everything, but for FFS, be prepared! Bring an extra flash and a modifier…you just never know. Hess just tying to find a piss poor excuse…

    | |
  13. V

    Clearly has never heard of “one light”. I’ve had disaster strike but I made the best of it…

    | |
  14. Christina

    My boss prefers using natural lighting when we do barrel racing, dressage shows, barn photos, senior portraits for the year books, etc. She makes sure that she has ALL the information and will double check it to make sure it’s accurate before we go to a show, specifically if it’s a last minute booking. For her last minute is 2 day notice and getting shorter and her reputation is gaining as a spot on, professional photographer with on-sight viewing of pictures.

    | |
  15. Tamara Didenko

    If he was kind of ready for event shooting, why not take the best of it. Wasn’t there any chance to use natural lightning and location? And I don’t understand either why would so serious photographer not reading carefully the conditions of the shooting.

    | |
  16. Albi Kl

    People are so judgemental. Given the circumstances (wrong gear, no studio setup, short time with each athlete, not allowed to edit in post) heaven and earth conspired against him that day. The man walked in expecting to shoot a news story but was forced to shoot glamour portraits.

    This should be a discourse on media outlets and photographers getting their information correct before a shoot and not a forum to kick a man while he is down.

    | |
    • Christopher Michael

      People are not kicking…Its just a fact. When you photograph iconic people, better take in that you need to make them look good. PERIOD

      | |
  17. MLee Kneer

    One flash and one lens can produce amazing photos if you simply use your knowledge. Composition is learned before adding in studio lighting. I do feel for the guy for not having all of the toys with him. However, that does not even touch an explanation for those images.

    | |
  18. Anonymous

    There’s no excuse. He should have known it wasn’t an event, and even if it wasn’t I could have taken better photos in a dark cave. He could have atleast made a better idea out of the whole thing like perhaps simply shooting them in a more candid manner.

    | |
  19. Joey Duncan

    ya, these were just bad photographer photos, there is no blaiming the lack of editing, his lenses or “somebody else’s studio” this is pictures taken by somebody who just doesn’t have enough experience. It says he’s a ”
    fashion and commercial photographer” which probably means he’s used to people hacking the hell out of his images to make them look good.

    | |
  20. Caitlyn Chapman

    erm nope. post-processing could not have made these into better photos. if they HAD to go to AP they shouldn’t have released them. I sympathize with the guy but honestly they’re still awful. The lighting I can almost understand (there are still ways to make a single strobe work nicely) but the posing and composition and choice of facial expressions…. yeesh really no excuse for that.

    | |
  21. Charles P

    He’s new, and this is part of his learning curve. Unfortunately it was this publicised. I’m a professional photographer, and I wouldn’t judge him while he’s still learning the industry.
    Hopefully he takes the best out of this situation and improves.

    | |
  22. Joe Gunawan

    He was shooting for a news bureau. Pretty much no post-processing allowed and all the photos had to be sent to AFP. It’s partly AFP’s fault for not editing better and releasing said photos to CBS News.

    – Joe Fotosiamo

    | |
  23. shannon

    A lot of the “horror” could have been fixed in post processing which it look like there was none done to these images.

    | |
  24. Tobias Solem

    Unfortunately this does not explain the poor compositions or the fact that these images left the camera. If you want to be a professional you definitely don’t sell shots like those.

    | |