Meet the AP photographers going for gold at the Rio Olympics

Olympic photographers

Last Updated Aug 18, 2016 8:49 AM EDT

The Olympics often look like an endless sprint to the finish, a blur of non-stop action. 

But it can also look like a singular moment frozen in time -- a full story in one frame.

“An image is going to last a lot longer, it imprints itself in your mind, and when something does stand out because it’s different, it’s spectacular, you remember that photo,” Associated Press deputy director of photography Denis Paquin told CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. 

Paquin has been creating those images for the past 17 Olympic Games, including Michael Johnson’s star-spangled celebration after winning gold in Atlanta in 1996. In Rio, he’s working with a team of 61 AP photographers. Their work is used by news outlets around the world.

“We’re sending on average about 3,500 photos from these Olympics, which is the highest number ever,” Paquin said.

That’s 3,500 photos per day.

“That’s an incredible amount of photos. I can barely keep up looking at all of them,” Paquin said. 
This is David Goldman’s third Olympics.

“What are you looking for when you say, ‘I want to shoot something here’?” Tracy asked Goldman.
“OK, so I’m seeing this woman walking with the flag, holding it up, right, so that right there is a nice big graphic element of her walking, with her arms open with the flag,” Goldman said. “What I want to do is I might run underneath her, and shoot sort of wide angle with just the blue sky and the flag and her arms stretched out.” 
“The amount of rings and torches that I have shot probably number in the hundreds or thousands,” Goldman said.

“Do these Olympic rings kind of haunt you?” Tracy asked.

“They do! Oh, completely, yeah!” Goldman responded. “I mean, I go to bed sometimes with, you know, not visions of sheep or, you know, I’m counting rings!”
But now he and his fellow photogs have some help in getting those extra special shots in hard to reach places.

David Phillip helps operate eight robotic cameras and dozens of remotely controlled ones in every corner of the Olympic venues. They are hung in the rafters for ultimate overhead shots and sunk in the pool for unique underwater, under-body perspectives.

“These cameras are put in positions where photographers can’t be. There’s no physical possible way for them to be there,” Phillip said. 
“If somebody gets a great shot, it’s out to the world in how many seconds?” Tracy asked Paquin.

“A photo can be out on the network in under two minutes, from the time it’s shot,” Paquin said.

It may be taken in an instant, but if it captures just the right moment, it may live forever. 

“When you get that image, then it’s the greatest reward,” Goldman said.

Sometimes, these photographers capture very revealing moments. During the Sochi Winter Games in 2014, Goldman was in a VIP room with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He turned to check his nails at the very same moment an Olympic ring failed to appear during the opening ceremony.

By the time he turned back to the monitor, all was well and Putin was spared the embarrassment, until he found out about it later.