"I look for something that jumps out at me," says Picture Editor Barbara Henckel, interrupting an examination of the color transparencies arrayed on her light table. One of Henckel's jobs is to reduce hundreds of negatives to a select few for final choice by the editors and art department, and one of her specialties has become Olympic athletes, both winter and summer. Even while the last of Innsbruck's Winter Olympians flashed through SI's pages, Henckel was at work making selections for this week's Summer Olympic preview issue, particularly the sporting gallery starting on page 50. Since last spring, when 17 photographers were assigned to bring back pictures of 32 potential medal winners from 32 countries, Henckel figures that she has looked for those images that "jump out" in more than 15,000 transparencies.
SI's Director of Photography Jerry Cooke assigned the gallery to a group of photographers that consisted of a Japanese, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Russian, an Australian, a Brazilian, two Englishmen and nine Americans who were instructed to shoot the athletes in situations that would identify them with their sport and country. While they tracked down their assigned subjects, Henckel tracked the photographers, mostly by cable. A sample wire to New York's Anthony Edgeworth, then at large in Eastern Europe with his cameras: IN BUDAPEST CONTACT DR. KLINKO FOR HELP. Edgeworth's laconic reply arrived in a day or two. It read: KLINKO KLUNKED. Explained Edgeworth, "In places like Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria, where officials are working for the state, you have to be photographer, manipulator and ambassador all at once. The smallest decision may take hours or days. Once I tried to put in an emergency telephone call to TIME'S Paris bureau [Edgeworth had run out of money] and the operator said: 'What day do you want to call?' "
Still, Edgeworth got his picture, as did English photographer Tony Duffy, who had been dispatched to Cuba to shoot heavyweight boxer Teofilo Stevenson. Cuban authorities refused permission to photograph Stevenson in a sugarcane field, so they moved to Havana's Revolutionary Square—where Duffy was promptly arrested for taking pictures of a military installation. Meanwhile, in Uganda, Tony Triolo arrived just in time to find that his subject, a boxer, had defected to parts unknown. Undaunted, Triolo took off for Kenya, where he found Ghana's Alice Annum in training. She also was walking a handsome cheetah at the time. Triolo's joy in this unusual subject was marred only slightly when the cheetah began to nibble on his toes.
Finally, gallery all assembled, Henckel choreographed this week's cover, rounding up basketball star Scott May from North Carolina and marathoner Frank Shorter from Oregon to meet swimmer Shirley Babashoff at West Point for the portrait, a masterwork of logistics.
And now, one editing task completed, Henckel is poised, eyepiece at the ready, for the flood of pictures from Montreal. "It's a matter of organization," she says. Perhaps, but it is also more than that. Henckel has what the editors call "a great eye." Says Henckel wryly, "I hope it holds out."