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Photographer explains controversial Team USA Olympic Portraits

Jul 6, 2012 at 23:00 GMT

Photographer Joe Klamar's portraits of US Olympic atheletes have caused a lot of controversy this week, especially in the USA. Reaction to the shots, taken for French photo agency AFP, has been varied, with many commentors dismissing his images as unprofessional at best, and at worst unpatriotic. Others have defended Klamar, arguing that his apparently unpolished images represent a deliberate attempt to challenge the conventions of portrait photography. The truth, it turns out, is more mundane. It seems Klamar was simply caught unprepared.

According to Klamar, 'I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their headshots for our archives [and] I really had no idea that there would be a possibility for setting up a studio'.

Trey Hardee of Team USA, photograph by Joe Klamar for AFP

Responding to the negative reaction of some commentors to his work, Klamar has insisted that 'my only goal was to show [the athletes] as interesting, as special people who deserve their fame because they are the best [at] what they do. And for the little time we had together, they were willing to work with my concepts'.

Klamar certainly isn't the first photographer to turn up to a job only to find it wasn't the kind of job he thought it was, so what do you think - did he make the best of a difficult situation, or did he just mess up? What would you have done?

via Petapixel.com