Victory's Photographer

Daniel Forster has been photographing medal-winners since the Munich Olympics in 1972.

2012 Olympics Sailing
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
2012 silver medalists in the 470, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, shortly after crossing the finish line in Weymouth.Daniel Forster

Yachting photographer Daniel Forster, from Jamestown, Rhode Island, has photographed every Olympic sailing regatta since 1972, except Beijing in 2008 which he was unable to attend, and has quite the portfolio to show for it. At the Rio Olympics, he is photographing with his colleague, photographer Juerg Kaufmann. They covered the 2012 Games in London together, and as Forster says, "Covering the Olympics is such a large task that it's impossible to do it alone." Forster is the official US Sailing Team Photographer, and is well-known for capturing the victorious celebrations of Olympic medal winners. For the sailors in Rio, they can hope for both a medal at the end of the regatta and a snap by the world-famous photographer, like these favorites from past Games with captions from Forster himself.

Lilly Xu 2012 Olympics
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
London 2012: This is a composite of [Laser Radial gold medalist] Lilly Xu reaching along. I took a sequence of these photos, and when I edited the photos it came to me that it could be a candidate for a composite edit. I liked her concentration and the moving of the left hand, which looked to me like a ballet dancer in her gracefulness and focus. I'm looking forward to photographing her again after her comeback.Daniel Forster
Robert Sheidt Athens Olympics
Athens, 2004: Robert Scheidt won his second gold medal, this time in the Laser, and was the dominant sailor through the whole regatta. After winning, I was lucky to show him “walking on water,” as a symbol of his dominance in the class.Daniel Forster
2004 Olympics Windsurfer
Athens 2004: After the finish of the Israeli windsurfer [Gal Fridman, in the Mistral] we were ready for the jump. This time, it was just lucky that I was in front of the jumper and not behind like the other photographers in the background, so I got the perfect shot. This photo also shows the chaos that can surround the sailors and photographers at the finish.Daniel Forster
2004 Olympic Sailing
Athens 2004: Shirley Robinson & Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton won the gold in the Yngling. It was Robinson’s (left) second gold medal, after the Sydney Olympics in the Europe class. The challenge on the last day is to be on the correct side of the winning boat so that you can get the crew jumping in the water. By then, it had become a tradition for winners to jump overboard, and the coaches are right there to catch the crew-less boat.Daniel Forster
2012 Olympic Sailing
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
London 2012: The 470 silver medalists Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell crossed the finish line shortly after the Australians. The crew leapt off his boat, but by then I was prepared to capture the action because of the gold medalists crossing before them. (See photo #7)Daniel Forster
2004 Olympic Sailing
Athens 2004: Usually the photo boats are at the extension of the finish line. By intuition, I suggested to my colleagues that we go in front of the finish line for a different angle. And low and behold, [470 gold medalists] Foerster and Burnham cross the finish line, and we are ready. Burnham does the backflip, and we get the picture, which become famous around the world. More than one photographer came over to me on my boat and shook my hand thanking me for the direction in the different angle.Daniel Forster
2012 Olympic Sailing
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
London 2012: This is the 470 gold medalists [Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page] who crossed the finish line and everyone else took the photo when they crossed. We all put our cameras down. As soon as I put the camera down on the photo boat and I see Page in mid-air and I realize “oh my god, this is exactly what Kevin Burnham did eight years ago in Athens.” (see Photo #6). I grabbed my camera that has the longest lens possible, a 600-milimeter lens with an extender making it 840 millimeters. Without hesitation, I pointed and shot. Every frame was perfectly shot. Then, I was ready when shortly after, Belcher leapt into the air himself. (see photo #8)Daniel Forster
2012 Olympic Sailing
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
London 2012: I am both sports photographer and a photo editor, and in this case I worked for hours on editing these photos into one single sequence. They were taken after the finish of the 470 gold medalists [Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page], with a Canon EOS-1D X, which is capable of 12-frames per second. This is Matt going into the water, the helmsman. His crew, Malcolm, was already in the water.Daniel Forster
2012 Olympic gold medal
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
London 2012: On the way back to the media center from the medal ceremony, I walked past Tom Slingsby. I knew I could get this photo — I asked, "Do you mind biting into your gold medal?" He happily obliged. Four years later, I saw him here in Rio and I asked him if he remembered this photo, and he told me that he did, and that, "by the way the teeth marks are still there."Daniel Forster
2012 Olympic Sailing
2012 Olympic Games London / Weymouth
London 2012: The Swedish star class gold medal win was a total surprise because the first and second place teams [Great Britain and Brazil] were covering each other in the medal race, and in the last leg the Swedes came from behind and won it. It was such a surprise that they had to look at the coach for confirmation when they crossed the finish line. At the Olympic Games, which is the height of most sailors careers, when the sailors cross the finish line they absolutely explode with emotion. They jump in the water, they yell, they raise their arms in victory. A few hours later it’s usually more emotion — they start to cry, they hear their anthem— they're internalizing what happened. In this photo, they had just come off the water from the win, and the victory was still new.Daniel Forster