This fall I saw a post in a local Facebook photography page that was asking for photographers to apply to be a part of the Photography Squad for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. I thought it sounded like a super fun opportunity, and the promise of free Columbia winter gear in exchange for my time sounded like a sweet deal! I filled in my application and heard back almost immediately that I would be a good fit for the team that was being assembled. In the end, there were over 80 photographers that covered the 2 weeks of the games and I had the pleasure of working with many of them during my shifts. Each event usually had 2-4 photographers and we posted over 25,000 images! (I know we each could have posted WAY more, but they had to ask us to slow down!)
My first shift of the games was the Opening Ceremonies. I was SO impressed with how many local dance companies, schools and performers were a part of the opening ceremonies. The talent from the Red Deer area is amazing! The quality of the show was so great, and the excitement of the athletes in the arena was contagious!
My first sporting event to cover was Men's Artistic Gymnastics. After that I covered two Men's Hockey Games, along with a concert at the Festival Site and Short Track Speed Skating Relay finals. I was absolutely SHOCKED at how fit and muscular the gymnastics guys were! (I may have told a few people that I felt like a creepy old lady checking out all the athletes) I wasn't expecting to see athletes that were as talented as them. Each event I attended was the same, the level of competition was so awesome! I think my favorite part of covering the events was speaking with the parents of the athletes. They were so thankful to the photographers for capturing the important moments for them and weren't afraid to tell us how much they appreciated our work. It was so exciting to see our images being used in daily email updates, Facebook and Instagram posts from the Canada Games, used by media outlets and sporting agencies in their articles online, and posted by the athletes to their personal Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Something I did not expect or know about, was how fun it was collecting pins! Pin collecting is SERIOUS business for some people and I came across quite a few athletes, volunteers and spectators who had HUGE collections. I gathered up a pretty decent collection of my own, and my favorite pin is the Camera with the maple leaf, as those were only given out to the photographers for the games, and are very exclusive!! I had lots of pin collectors offering me 4-5 pins just for that one.
The spirit of community and sportsmanship during the two weeks of the games was so wonderful to be a part of, and I heard that over and over again from every volunteer I spoke to. I can't get over how many people were willing to give up every spare minute they had with a GIANT smile on their face, and still wanting to do more. I am so proud to be a part of such a generous community!
Being a photographer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games was SUCH a big change from being in the studio with my squishy babies, and I wouldn't have traded the puffy pooh bear jacket or my experiences for anything!
It truly meant so much to me to see the thankful messages from everyone who loved and used the images from the games. I would like to share a link I received from one of the athletes moms in closing of this blog post! Elijah is a gymnast from Calgary and is raising money for a Charity called "Right to Play", which is focused on allowing children the right to play sports. If you are able, please donate so he can reach his goal!