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|The site below was placed online in July & August, 1996, and has largely been left in its original form|
The Olympics: Through the eyes of an Atlanta photographer is the creation of Reid Stott, a 37 year old Atlantan who says he's "getting to go somewhere I've never been, yet always dreamed about....the Olympics. I'm just trying to share what the excitement is like when the Centennial Olympics show up in your back yard." He also tells how he took the photographs.
I might note that this article's impact on my counter was statistically insignificant. Apparently, people who read the McPaper don't surf.
Most hearteningly, I've received over 200 e-mails from various folks around the world. I greatly appreciate all this digital encouragement, especially during the tragic events of 7/27/96.
And then finally (for now) came an e-mail from the associate editor of the top trade magazine in my industry, Photo District News. In addition to the possibility of an upcoming article in that magazine, he wrote the flattering piece below for the online version of The Capital Times 7/27.
By Kurt Foss
For The Capital Times
"The last time a bunch of foreigners came to Atlanta bearing torches, things didn't turn out too well...."
-- from Reid Stott's web site
The razing of Atlanta during the Civil War by Gen. Sherman and his troops remains the low point in the city's history. But running a close second may be some of the media bashing the Olympic host city has endured in the past week -- criticisms aimed primarily at the local organizing committee for a raft of problems, including sultry weather, transportation snafus and communication breakdowns.
Those kinds of attacks have, for the most part, been taken in stride, and steps taken toward improving the Olympic experience for all. But some of the more personal cheap shots -- such as the labeling of the Centennial Olympics as the "Bubba Games" for the use of pick-up trucks in the opening ceremonies -- were seen as a low blow at Atlanta's character and culture in particular, and the Southern lifestyle in general. Such negative coverage has raised the hackles of many a Peach State resident; some have launched counter attacks of their own through sympathetic media reports.
Others, like Atlanta-based photographer Reid Stott, have taken their rebuttals directly to the world ... via the Internet.
"If you don't think of the South when you see pick-up trucks and football cheerleaders, then you're either not from here, or you've been away far too long," Stott wrote on his personal Olympic web site after witnessing the Friday night opening extravaganza in person. Not only did he manage to score a hard-to-come-by ticket from a friend in the last days, but he ended up next to the VIP section where Pres. Clinton and other dignitaries were seated, barely 20 yards from the action on the field. "Take if from a Southerner," he adds, "no self-respecting redneck would drive a chrome pick-up truck, especially without a gun rack. But that fancy back seat and spotlight would be mighty handy for deer huntin' ..."
By exchanging assigned seats with his buddy midway through the ceremony, Stott was able to photograph the event from a couple perspectives. He made a series of very good photographs, unlike the less fortunate president nearby. Clinton reportedly shot a roll of film the same night and asked an Associated Press photographer to process it for him -- only to have the AP, and soon the rest of the world via the AP news service, discover that the film was blank.
Stott was in position to photograph some of the most memorable scenes, including the silhouetted Olympic figures, the high-flying cheerleaders, the entry of Team USA and even fellow native Evander Holyfield and finally Janet Evans jogging the last legs of the torch run. He posted many of his best pictures on his web site, and promises to add more as the Games continue. With uncanny luck in the ticket lottery, hitting on six of the seven event applications he submitted more than a year ago, Stott should be a busy spectator/photographer during the final week.
Outside the venues, Stott is spending as much time as he can in the midst of the public gatherings, both "people watching" and making more pictures for his electronic scrapbook.
"As I expected," he wrote on one of his newest web pages, "I have seen some....ummm...unique individuals around town. I've heard dialects I don't recognize, watched behavior I've never seen before, and seen visitors with acute culture shock ... and that's just the Americans."
One such was a 23-year-old "symbol of American Youth" who was sporting a large white 'S' on his red-painted body. "The adult in me trembled for the future of the country," Stott wrote.
He'll continue to add pictures and colorful commentary to his site as time allows, he says; but he's too busy enjoying himself at this "childhood dream come true" event to let some spoiled, disgruntled media ruin his time, or the good name of his home city.
"Every spectator I have talked to, and every conversation I've overheard, has been positive. Us regular folks are havin' a blast," Stott wrote. "It's mainly the VIP-types that are complaining."
The antagonistic portion of the assembled press corps, one presumes, is sarcastically included as psuedo-VIPs. But before Stott gets back to having the time of his life, he has one last piece of advice for the biggest and loudest cynics who seem intent on figuratively burning Atlanta to the ground one more time:
"The media is cranky from the heat," Stott wrote. "They seem to have forgotten it is their job to be on the road, working under crowded, adverse conditions, while seeing events most of us only dream about. If you can't stand the heat ... Delta is ready when you are."
A torch of another kind has indeed been passed in Atlanta this week, via the Web; some media, for a change, may feel the heat from offended subjects who now have direct access to a global medium of their own.
Photographs Copyright (C) 1996 Reid Stott
Published with author's expressed permission.
About the Author
Kurt Foss teaches multimedia publishing and reporting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In addition, he produces web content, helps
develop web sites and writes about digital information technologies for several trade publications.Foss was the founding director of the Electronic Photojournalism Lab at theUniversity of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, where he taught and conducted applied research with the changing tools of visual journalism. Currently Foss serves as the technology editor for the Electronic Photojournalism Workshop, an annual "technology bootcamp" sponsored by the National Press Photographers Association. Also, he is NPPA's Assistant Telecommunications Chair, helping to manage its various online efforts. Recently, he worked as a photo technology consultant to the "24 Hours in Cyberspace" project, based
in San Francisco. In other words, Foss lives, eats and sleeps computers.
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All text & images at this web site are ©1996-2001 Reid Stott, and may not be reproduced in any way without permission.