Olivier Morin

True Winter Sports

© Olivier Morin

What drives a surfer to pursue their passion in waters of around 3°C amid the snowy fjords? “They just don’t have a choice”, says Olivier Morin, head of the AFP’s photo department, formerly based in Stockholm and a lover of the Scandinavian countries he continues to document. “For Norwegians, who represent the vast majority of people I photograph, extreme temperatures are not a problem: they live with them all year round.” Living with the cold all your life changes your relationship with freezing temperatures. “There’s even a point at which we develop a kind of addiction to the physiological and psychological sensations it procures”, Olivier Morin continues. “I am a fan of cold weather!”

Conditions such as these force photographers to adapt, both logistically and psychologically. Leave your equipment in the cold to prevent misting, choose a diving suit that is warm enough to work in but light enough to let you move quickly if there is a problem… “It’s a whole routine that you learn as you go along”, explains Morin. “The first time I went into the water with my camera, I had to give up working after 10 minutes.” This ability to adapt and improvise is crucial to any lensman, but even more so to a sports photographer. And they are qualities that helped Morin capture one of the best-known and finest shots of Usain Bolt – in full stride as a flash of lightning cuts through the sky over the athlete. “That photo was 99% luck!” explained the photographer at the time. When luck is combined with sheer talent, as in Morin’s case, the images are always breathtaking. Away from the athletics track, amid the freedivers, ice divers and surfers, he captures the intimate relationship between these cool – literally very cool! – athletes and the extreme cold. “They don’t suffer, and neither do I”, Olivier Morin concludes. “It’s fun, more than anything! Real and authentic.”

Views Across the Far North
The Agence France-Presse and the La Gacilly Photo Festival carry on their collaboration with two photographers selected to illustrate AFP’s perspective on the Far North. They both deal with a theme that is dear to us: the bond between Humankind and our Earth.

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