EDITOR’S NOTE: The following post is a guest post by renowned Dutch sports photographer Robbert Wijtman whose image from the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles entitled ‘I just won’ was awarded 1st Prize in the category Photograph Emotion at the inaugural Sport Media Pearl Awards in Abu Dhabi in December 2015.  Below Wijtman explains the vision and significance of his shot of Special Olympics Norway athlete Katarina Norberg.


Katarina Norberg by Robbert Wijtman

Photography is an art. You know it when you see it. Much photograph is snapshots, then you see photography
where the photographer has taken the time to capture what he wants. My image ‘I just won,’ of a Special Olympian judoka saviours a victorious moment. The image was shot with a 70-200 f2.8 in a room that was not well-lit. The athlete had just won a hard fought semi-final battle with a nice throw, earning an ippon or one total point. She was still on course to win the gold medal.

I had just come from the Pan American Games in Toronto and I was very tired coming to Los Angeles. I went to the judo and saw Katarina. She was across the room and it was a difficult shot. She was developing her face and I waited and waited. 

Faces intrigue me.  I always look for how people move, how they walk, how their faces are. I could see her face changing as she realized she had won. There were ten other photographers but they were focusing elsewhere. A lot of photography is luck, but then having the vision of what you are trying to say – her sudden understanding of her position.  Before she had a confused look.  Her face comes out, the innocence of it.

The photo represents the essence of sports – human nature in its most naked form. I had a deep connection with the athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles and I intend to return to capture magical moments at many more Special Olympics events in the future.  The effort and the training they put in – it’s a night and day difference with professional athletes. They do it for the love, that overcoming of obstacles is a reflection of life.

One thought on “The Magic of Faces

  1. Love it. She shows how delicious achieving a goal can be, yet giddy at the same time. After my son shoots a basket, his wide grin and laughter says it all. This is his first year as a Special Olympian. It’s not just about the winning for him, it’s the naked delight of doing his best.

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