Five Years Later / by Laura Heald

I remember the first time I took a picture and thought, "Wow, I can actually do this." It was at the 2008 USATF Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. The picture was of AG Krueger, a leading US hammer thrower. The camera was a Nikon D3; the lens a 14-24.

The sun was setting, and Bill was busy with finals on the track, so setting up the wide angle remote in the hammer cage became my responsibility. I was nervous. I had seen Bill set up remotes before and had even helped, but I had never been solely responsible for the success of the picture. I was still learning the ropes, so to speak, and I was learning by fire. Seven weeks later, I would be in Beijing assisting Bill at the Olympic Games.

One camera on a PocketWizard was technologically advanced for me then. I was still working out what depth of field was and how to use it. Exposure was a trial and error experiment. And I still didn't quite understand what wide angle distortion was. Looking at the picture now I see what I did wrong. It was good for me then, but I wouldn't consider it very good now.

AG Krueger won the 2008 USATF Olympic Trials

That was five years ago. Since the Bill and I have been to two Olympic Games, two IAAF World Championships and countless other assignments, both big and small. Remotes no longer scare me. In fact, I expect them. They expand the creative possibilities. I can now "see" things that aren't directly in front of me. I can visualize the picture and figure out the technical parts I need to make it happen. I've learned a lot and have had a very patient teacher.

Those Olympic Trials in Eugene solidified my decision to pursue the visual arts. Because of that, I have always had a soft spot for track and field. I have been to every USATF outdoor championship since, and every year I visit the hammer cage at least once to try and make that picture better.

This year in Des Moines, Iowa, I made an image I like.

The athlete AG Krueger. The camera is a D3; the lens a 14-24.

AG Krueger won the 2013 USATF Outdoor Championships.

History repeats. The difference is that now I'm not nervous. Now, I know what I'm doing. Now, I expect to get it right and am excited to try.