Sunday, February 24, 2013

He worked the 1980 Moscow Olympics

Meet Michael Datikash, a photographer for "Jewish Week" newspaper who used to work for TASS, the nationally backed news Russian news agency. We met at a local synagogue shooting a Purim celebration. Meeting him was meeting history firsthand.

I love talking to these old school photographers with tons of experience and years of shooting different cameras, lens and yes, that thing called "film." He met and shot Nixon, Brezhnev, Khrushev and a host of other notable dignitaries. But most importantly, he was a Jew working in a very anti-Semitic Red Russia. When I asked him about this, he replied, "I simply had to be better that everyone else and they needed me."

But what was most interesting for me was what was it like to shoot the Olympics. He was in the international pool of photographers and had access to all venues, athletes and even their changing rooms. With all this freedom came State Security. He was always watched and when he traveled out of the country, there were 'watchers' some easily identified , others not. What he still doesn't understand to this day, is why were there two armed guards outside his hotel room when he was shooting the 1980 Moscow Olympics?

I shoot the news. He shot history.

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