AS THE OLYMPICS opened in Athens last week, SI's 46-member Games crew fanned out over the baking Greek landscape. "With more than 20 sports going on at once and news breaking all the time, it's almost impossible to keep up with everything," says assistant managing editor Craig Neff, who is overseeing the magazine's Athens coverage. "Fortunately we have a team of Olympic veterans who thrive in the 21/2 weeks of craziness."
SI's office at the warehouselike press center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with 11 writers and 10 photographers who work for the magazine and our SI.com website filtering through at all hours. Director of photography Steve Fine's corner is decked out with maps, schedules and a whiteboard on which assignments are scrawled. Fine, a veteran of nine Olympics, and five other photo editors spend part of their 18-hour shifts culling the best shots from the more than 30,000 digital photos taken each day for SI. "None of these pictures is an accident," says Fine, who scouted Athens venues and locations for two years before the Games. "We're trying to make iconic images that convey a sense of place and a moment in history."
To ensure the technical quality of each image, SI imaging director Geoffrey Michaud puts the photos through the digital equivalent of a darkroom session before transmitting them back to New York. As he did in Sydney in 2000 and Salt Lake City in 2002, Michaud is using a new generation of technology that will most likely become part of SI's regular operations after the Games. "This is an opportunity to pressure-test," he says. "In this environment you find out quickly if anything needs to be fixed."
Something always needs to be fixed at the Olympics, and senior editor Richard Demak is the magazine's on-the-scene problem solver. Last week, for example, photographer Lynn Johnson's credential blew off while she was scouting shooting locations on a motorcycle; in a few hours Demak had arranged for a new one. "The thing about the Olympics is that 99 percent of the problems can't be anticipated," says Demak, who has worked five previous Games for SI, summer and winter, beginning with Seoul in 1988. "I'm just glad it was the credential--and not Lynn--that flew off the motorcycle."