The most expensive Cheap Seats ever.

Well, that was an awesome experience. I’ve done some pretty monumental jobs in my time at The Telegraph, wars, elections, royal funerals and weddings and jubilees. The Olympics was something else. I’ve never been involved in something that generated (in me) such pride and feeling of union in Great Britain…even Andy Murray was visibly proud to be British and Britain seemed proud to have him….and he won.

Along with most Newspaper Photographers I was a division away from the agencies with their numbers, experience and access to kit. Some agencies had more remote cameras installed than they had photographers. They’d been planning for this for years. They already had the infrastructure from every other Olympic games that went before. A whole machine that just required the button to be pressed. By the time I came to it I was told that the opportunity to get a remote camera on the bottom of the pool had passed months ago. Even if it hadn’t I would not have had a clue as to how to go about getting one in place. I don’t know what housing you need, I don’t know how you would get the pix back from it. The same goes for overhead cameras. Even if someone had offered to put one in place, I wouldn’t have had a spare body to commit to that cause for the duration of the games.

I shoot news not sport. Despite efforts to get to ‘Test Events’ to get some experience the news schedule at The Telegraph was unrelenting . We essentially turned up ‘virgins’ for nearly all the events.

I remember turning up at Table Tennis to shoot a photo-essay, sitting on one of the benches and thinking “what the feck am I doing here” . It’s a bloody fast sport.

It’s all about observation. Once you’ve watched it for a bit you start to see how it all works and you start to realise what makes a picture. I found this principle applied to everything I covered.

It was a case of seeing where you needed to be to get the best angle then realising that 9 times out of 10 the ‘Blue Vest’ Pool position was exactly that same place.

At The Olympics The Pool is king. There are loads of great positions but at the end of the day  The Pool spot will always beat you.

The Telegraph was part of the National Olympic Photographic Pool (NOPP) but we were not allowed any of these prized ‘In Field’ positions. As I’ve said before I (and the other Telegraph photographers) shoot news not sport. We were told we did not have the required experience to shoot ‘In Field’. I’m still confused by what extra experience you need to sit in a different seat at the swimming that is ‘Head On’ rather than one that is at the side. At Athletics from the ‘outfield’ it didn’t look like Rocket science to avoid the javelin , and I think I could’ve avoided walking out onto the track whilst Hoy and co were whistling by, but that’s the way it was.

We were all still privileged to be there. I’d spent ages being pissed off about the restrictions that we ended up working under but come the games I decided to do what I could with where I was allowed.

I will remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing up for both of Mo Farah’s Golds. I’ll remember the primal noise of the Velodrome as Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy won, I was part of that noise, shouting as I shot.

I remember being calm waiting for our first Gold of the games at Eton Dorney, realising we’d won and a slight wobble as I shot the winners, a slight tremor, history being made, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.

I shot our last medal too, Samantha Murray, Modern Pentathlon, Silver.

For me the Olympics has been a bit of an eye opener. I’ve seen the best side of some people and the very worst of others. I’ve massively enjoyed it and I think I’ve shot some nice stuff. Some of it even got used. If I’d had access to the prime spots I think I’d have done even better. In the end it doesn’t really matter that much.

I covered The London Olympics 2012.

Here’s a few of the pix I took.


About eddiemulh

News Photographer for The Daily Telegraph and former Vice Chairman of The British Press Photographer's Association.
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29 Responses to The most expensive Cheap Seats ever.

  1. Grant Melton says:

    Great pics Eddie legend !

  2. Paul Duerinckx says:

    Fantastic set of pictures Eddie; great variety from someone who’s improvising and finding the best angles without the foreknowledge of a specialist.

  3. Pingback: The EXPENSIVE CHEAP SEATS | Mulholland's mumbles.

  4. Nick Peach says:

    As a wannabe/pretend photographer for 40 yrs I think you did OK! Would it develop the discussion to then compare your efforts to some shots taken from those elusive prime spots?

  5. Great stuff Eddie!
    So what were the best and worst sides of people you encountered?

  6. Jonathan Moscrop says:


  7. Jon Sparks says:

    Bloody good going for a ‘sports virgin’

  8. Ken Goff says:

    My first (probably last!) Olympics and you’ve expressed exactly and certainly better than I could, how I felt and feel now. With the experience of 2012 behind me I wish I could do it all over again. I was also fortunate to be in the company of a really nice ‘bloke’ for 2 weeks – Karwai Tang.

  9. Christine Mansfield says:

    What a fantastic cross section of shots – a brilliant representation of the variety, diversity and drama. I was there at the rowing and would love to see more of your shots, as it was impossible to take anything from amongst the Dorney Roar! Have you got a website with any others?

  10. grazzio says:

    I like the use of tilt-shift at the Equestrian and 100m (could be 200)

  11. Liz S says:

    Love the pole vaulter picture and of course the rest of them. Well done Eddie these pictures are fab!

  12. mike byford says:

    Nice pics Eddie – I know how difficult it is to get “pole position” at events….

  13. ruraleye says:

    I think the pole vaulter is the best. Greatr Work Eddie. Have you regained your hearing after the noise levels in the stadium?

  14. Nick says:

    A beautiful set of images from a man “without the necessary experience to shoot ‘in the field’ ” Actually a set that would, I suspect, make most Sports photographers proud…

  15. Great blog entry Eddie and lovely images too. Sounds like an amazing experience.

  16. Great stuff Mr Mulholland, for me the Pole Vaulter & the Chinese (I think) Wiff Waff shot are the best.
    It’s hard enough for us amateurs to get a good position at any event let alone a major international one so It’s kinda heartening to know that you Pro’s occasionally have bum seats! :–)

  17. Paul says:

    Hello Eddie very eloquently put and nice pics
    Here’s to the paralympics

  18. Matt Stamey says:

    Great work. I’m a staff shooter at a newspaper in Florida so I really enjoyed reading your take on photographing the Games.

  19. Milton Haworth says:

    Well done Eddie!
    You have as comprehensive a set of pictures as anyone I’m sure. Great work.

  20. Paul Ashby says:

    I would be happy to have taken just one of these fantastic shots Eddie, amazing work.

  21. Pete Jenkins says:

    Some lovely smudges there Eddie. I only wish that we had had the Olympics back in my time with the Telegraph…

  22. Good stuff mate – a great set of shots and as you say you were lucky to be there and share in so many great moments – wish I was !

  23. Kevin Harvey says:

    Cool set of images Eddie, I hope The Telegraph gave them justice. I hope you are now taking a break – we all need to recharge our batteries. K

  24. Great post Eddie. Of course, the brilliant pictures are standard expectation with you, but the written piece was also really enjoyable and insightful. Thank you for sharing with us.

  25. Andrew says:

    Eddie, Your piece is just so spot on with what I thought it would be. I totally feel your frustrations and will, like everyone else say ‘Well done’. You have to sit back, grin and bear it and work your best, as you did, with what you are able to. Well doen, great set of pictures and I would say a great Sports Portfolio. I too wish I was there, but I don;t miss the frustrations. But your news pictures, or should that be sport and feature pictures are great.

  26. Emma Grover says:

    I was glad you put “digits to keyboard” to record the many highs and lows of such an emotionally charged event, the like of which we will not probably see again in our life time on British soil, certainly not as working photographers. Saying that, the Paralympics will provide ample opportunity for you, Paul, Heathcliffe et al to shoot some more amazing photos. May I also say I know how very, very hard you all worked and I am proud to know such an amazing bunch of conscientious photographers (a Friday Night, Saturday Morning quote springs to mind). I love your Equestrian shots, remind me of many fabulous Photographic Monographs I used to distribute, Demand, Gursky et al I must look them up, The Pole Vault pic is superb, as are the Rowing medal ceremony, and multiple exposure pics. Love tilt n shift. All in all a great reflection of the many, many hours you put in. Wish there were time for you all to exhibit them in all their finery!

  27. Great images and a brilliant blog Eddie …..Looking forward to joining you at the Paralympics next week.

  28. Brian Bould says:

    Brilliant Pictures and Blog Eddie !

  29. What’s up i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this article i thought i could also create comment due to this good article.

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