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Olympic photo chief creates the image of the games

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DANICA KIRKA | May 16, 2012 07:18 AM EST | AP


LONDON — Asking Bob Martin to choose between his photos is like asking a parent to decide which child they love the most.

Does he like the rowers straining in the dawn mist, framed by the looming turrets of Windsor Castle? Or the thoroughbred leaping over an impossible barrier, set against the backdrop of Canary Wharf? Maybe the sunset over the beach volleyball court?

"I love them all – that's the problem," he said.

Martin is the man laying the groundwork for perfect picture of the 2012 London Olympics. His job is to make it possible for 1,400 other photographers to create memorable images that will instantly identify the city and the games.

But good pictures are made, not observed. Photographers plan. They scout around for the best angle, hoping to see something others don't. They worship light. They love the start of the day and the end of it, always hoping that a subject will look bright or new.

Martin enters the picture at the "plan" part. He has scouted locations – the rowing venue at Eton Dorney – and sought the perfect place to put the sculls. The castle was obvious, so he set about making sure that no clutter got in the way. He sought to make sure photographers would be able to cleanly focus on the athletes and the image, so the picture says both London and the Olympics.

Doing that means things like moving temporary toilets to another part of the course, or making sure no cars are parked between the castle and the water come games time.

The stakes are high. Martin's task is nothing short of making London look so fantastic that anyone who sees shots during the Olympics will want to visit or do business here.

Martin, who usually spends his time worrying about Wimbledon, is famous for taking an image of a diver soaring over Barcelona. If he's lucky, he'll create another icon, this time for London.

No pressure there.