Hockey photographer Bruce Bennett puts preparation into practice at Winter Olympics
With over 4,900 games of NHL experience and 200+ international games, Bruce Bennett of Getty Images is no stranger to a hockey rink.
But even with that amount of familiarity, the behind-the-scenes work and preparation that goes into photographing the hockey portion of the Winter Olympics is fascinating.
Bennett, Director of Photography for Getty Images, gave NBC Olympics an inside look into the preparation done on his end.
“We started planning on this, it was somewhere between six and eight months ago,” Bennett said in an exclusive interview. “I was given diagrams of the arenas, ice level as well as rafters. It gave me a good heads up in terms of what equipment we would need to do the job, and I was able to build a plan based on those schematics in order to give us the best chance of success here.
“You go into any Olympic Games, and if it’s in a country you’ve never been to before, there is that level of uncertainty in terms of housing and transportation and food, conditions in the hockey arenas, and this has all been a very pleasant surprise,” Bennett continued. “I knew nothing about South Korea, and the people are generally warmhearted people. Everyone, especially the volunteers, want to help.”
It is not the first rodeo for Getty, as the official sponsorship has spanned for eight Winter and Summer Olympics. However, with over 2,000 images being uploaded a day and the ability to send a photo to a publication in less than a minute, the slightest change in schedule could have a crippling effect.
“You know there are some numbers that you just can’t fathom, but all our cameras are tethered to network wires in the arenas,” Bennett explained. “On the technical side I look at the 50 miles of fiber optic work cables that run between all the venues and back to the media center. It’s something that we occasionally do in the NHL but we don’t quite do that often, only the bigger games do we have network cables. But here, in a tangled mess of network cables, all our remote cameras are networked as well, and those images as soon as you shoot them, go up to the mountain cluster where our press center is and our editors work on those images. I know its 41 kilometers away. So that kind of thing is a little bit mind-boggling. From a typical hockey game, you’re taking about 6,000-10,000 images and all those are going incredibly fast on that fiber optic network to the editors. To me that’s an amazing part of these games.”
Bennett has photographed 37 Stanley Cup-deciding games, 29 All-Star tilts and several outdoor hockey events, but still, the Olympic Games provide moments that are greater than hockey and have a wide-ranging impact.
“Any time South Korea touched the puck or shot it in the offensive zone, the crowd roared,” Bennett said of the first time the united Korean team took the ice in the women’s tournament. “It kind of told me that they weren’t really as much hockey fans as they were there for the spectacle of seeing their home team and to root them on. Tremendous, tremendous atmosphere, including the end of the game when Kim Jung Un’s sister came down to the bench, everyone else came down to the bench and met with the players personally. Everyone got goosebumps, lumps in our throats. It’s just tremendous.”
From the emotions of the unified Korea team to the thrill of the U.S. women's gold medal win in an overtime shootout and everything in between, Bennett and his Getty colleagues were there to capture it all.