Tiger Mountain Photo owners snap shots in Beijing as official Olympics photographers

Serge and Amy Timacheff, co-owners of the local photography studio Tiger Mountain Photo, didn’t flip on NBC to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing — they were there.

Serge and Amy Timacheff, co-owners of the Issaquah photography studio Tiger Mountain Photo, didn’t flip on NBC to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing — they were there. Serge is the official photographer for the International Fencing Federation at the Olympics, and both he and his wife are shooting for the United States Fencing Association as well. Although they have covered everything from Issaquah’s Salmon Days Festival to bar mitzvahs through Tiger Mountain Photo, they have a special affinity for taking photos of fencing because of Serge’s personal history with the sport. He is a co-founder of Washington Fencing Academy, which has branches all over the state, including Issaquah and Sammamish. Also, in the past five years he has shot more than 1 million fencing images in six different continents.

Now, in Beijing, he and Amy are experiencing the thrill of the Olympics firsthand. It’s no wonder that something he’s looking forward to is a good night’s sleep.

The Reporter asked Serge a few questions via e-mail:

Reporter: What was the opening ceremony like? What about it stood out to you most, and why?

Serge: The opening ceremony was incredible — a magnificent and astounding production with such a vast array of sets, costumes and so many performers. They utilized every inch of the stadium and it was simply overwhelming to the senses. It was oppressively humid and hot, too — sitting for five hours and bathing in sweat wasn’t very comfortable(!) It was forecast to rain with thunder and lightning, but since they fired more than 1,000 Howitzer cannon shots of silver iodide into the atmosphere, they prevented it from happening. Rain would really have fouled the event, that’s for sure. The most memorable thing, I think, was just the non-stop series of costumes and effects.

Reporter: What’s the atmosphere in Beijing like right now? The crowds, the athletes, the weather?

Serge: Since the opening ceremonies, it has been very humid and raining often; today is the first nice day we’ve had where it’s a little cooler and less humid. It was very, very hazy until the rains came, as well.

Reporter: What will a typical day for you be like?

Serge: Getting to the venue by 9 a.m., going through security, gearing up and photographing preliminary fencing action. A quick lunch at the MPC (media press center) and then image processing and workflow in the afternoon, along with various meetings and issues with various people and fencing federations, as well as fulfilling photo requests and delivering digital images to a variety of people. After that, the semi-finals and finals of fencing in the evening, followed by a late dinner and then a few hours of photo work until about 2 or 3 in the morning. Add to that the standard logistical challenges of getting around a huge facility, trying to explain where I’m going to Chinese taxi drivers, etc.

Reporter: Does the fact that you’re a fencer as well affect the way you photograph other fencers?

Serge: I think it helps my timing and anticipation in getting shots. I frequently see and hear other photographers shooting more images than they need, or taking shots at times when the action is finished or not interesting. But that’s something that many fencers would pick up on more than the general public seeing images of the sport.

Reporter: What are you looking forward to most about the coming weeks, and why?

Serge: Getting a full night’s sleep at some point; getting really cool shots published; seeing if I can take a peek at some other sports (I have a credential, but it’s tough); spending time with friends from other countries, learning more about photography — especially from the specialists Canon has here at the Olympic Games.