“When shooting the world’s fastest man you always need to be on your toes and ready.”
Usain Bolt has once again secured his title of fastest man in the world. If there’s one photo that demonstrates the speed, talent and playfulness of the Jamacain sprinter, it would be this shot taken by Getty Images photographer Cameron Spencer at the Men’s 100 meter semifinal.
“Bolt is an entertainer and he surprises me every time that he goes on the track. I’ve been shooting him for three Olympics and two World Championships and every time he simply loves entertaining the crowd. When shooting the world’s fastest man you always need to be on your toes and ready. Last night when he flew past me with perfect technique and his huge stride, he looked back and smiled; I only had a few seconds to capture this epic Olympic moment, but I was in the right place, ready,” he said. “I decided to take a risk and shoot a pan at a slow shutter speed, knowing he would coast past his competitors around the 70m mark, he makes it look easy, almost playing with his competitors. Bolt is so confident and such an elite athlete, shooting him is an amazing experience.”
Spencer was shooting the high-jump qualifiers in the infield of the stadium when he decided to take a risk and shoot the 100-m race as well. With just 3 1/2 minutes to position himself, Spencer set up his handheld camera and three remotes, firing off all four cameras as the race begun.
“I was standing still but I was panning my lens with him as he passed, so my upper body was moving with him. Once he passed me—like he was gone—I looked at my pictures to see how it went and fortunately there were some sharp ones,” Spencer told TIME. “I didn’t realize the extent of the smile when I shot it. And I was like, ‘Oh, wow, he’s in focus and moving and smiling.’ I sort of knew it was a special moment. His full stride, he’s smiling, he has that amazing perfect technique and he’s looking across seven of the top fastest runners in the world and he’s enjoying himself. For someone to look around and have a good time, it’s mind-blowing.”