I am headed to Rio for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games!


I am extremely honored and blessed to be headed to Rio to cover the 2016 Summer Olympic Games for USA Today!  I will be posting constant blog updates as well as fun behind the scenes stuff on Snapchat(soonerkj), Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so follow me @kevinjairaj  if you want to see the experience through my eyes.

I thought to get everyone ready for the games, I would post some of my photos and stories from the recent Olympic Media Summit held at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.  USA Today hired me to take some portraits of a few selected Olympians and we had a great time creating some fun images!  These are sometimes tough as we had a pretty small ballroom and I had to find a way to make 4 or 5 sets work in a small space.  A huge thanks to Christine Bentley, Rylee Gonsar, and Angie Walton for helping with setting everything up and taking a lot of the behind the scenes photos!

Another HUGE shoutout to the following companies for their wonderful support in making the shoots a success...

Profoto - There are no better lights in the industry in my opinion and Profoto is the only equipment I will ever use!  When you need color and light consistency, these guys are the best!  We used a cobination of D1 Airs wired units, B1 wireless units, and a ProB4 generator with 2 ProB heads.

Silverlake Backdrops - This is my new "goto" supplier of backdrops and floors as they simply have the best variety and the easy on and off velcro system on their colorsmacks are a lifesaver when you have to switch out backgrounds in a hurry!

Tether Tools - The tools they have allowed us a simple, portable, and convenient way to view all the images in real time on my laptop and I will not do another shoot like this without them!

As you can see, we pretty much packed the room with sets using just about every inch of space that we were given!  We were able to get the hotel to put down two dance floors like they do for wedding receptions so that it would be much easier for athletes to jump or put spikes on, etc... without sinking into the carpet.(Not to mention hotel ballroom carpets are usually the ugliest things anyway!)  It also helped when I wanted to put down any faux floors or special mylar(See below).

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As you guys know from my previous posts, I usually have anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes with these athletes so speed and adaptability are crucial. Here are a few of the photos that I liked as well as some behind the scenes...

SIMONE BILES - GYMNASTICS

I predict that Simone will pretty much become a household name and a HUGE superstar after these games! In fact, she might already be the best female gymnast in the history of the USA!  Unfortunately, I literally only had a couple of minutes with her as her schedule was insane, but we got some great photos!

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MISSY FRANKLIN - SWIMMING

As a 17 year old in her first Olympics in London, Missy won 5 Medals including 4 GOLD medals!   She is also the world record holder in the 200 meter backstroke.  I had Missy for about 5 minutes and she was wonderful and so much fun to work with!  In fact, I think she laughed throughout the whole shoot!!

We also had the athletes pick out props and do a "fun" shot for our instagram feed and this is what Missy picked...

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 Kim Rhode - Shooting

Kim is one of our most decorated Olympians as she has pretty much dominated the sport of shooting!  In fact, this will be Kim's 6th Olympic Games!!  She has won 5 total Olympic medals with 3 being GOLD including one at the last Olympics in London.  I first photographed Kim for the London games and we really hit it off.  We have been friends for awhile and so it was such a fun time getting to see Kim and her family again! I can't wait to see what she does in Rio!

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It has almost become tradition, but Kim always lets me take a fun photo with all of her Olympic medals and it never gets old!  In fact, I felt like Mr T with all her bling!

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ENGLISH GARDNER

What a cool name! English was awesome to photograph! She was up for any idea I had and we got some really cool stuff!  Look for her in the women's 100mm dash as she alreaday has the 7th fastest time in the world this year!

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ELENA DELLE DONNE and TAMIKA CATCHINGS

I had a chance to work with two of the BEST women's basketball players to ever play! Not only are Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings incredible baskeball players, but they are also very photogenic and a ton of fun to be around.(And also WAY taller than me.)   Look for them to lead Team USA to the gold medal in Rio!

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 MAGGIE STEFFENS - WATER POLO

  • Maggie is the captain of Team USA's water polo team and should lead them to teh gold medal if all goes well!  She was a ton of fun to shoot and has a wonderful personality to go along with her incredible athletic ability!  She's also super photogenic which made my job very easy! :)



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I mean she even plays air guitar in a tutu!

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  • GABBY DOUGLAS - GYMNASTICS

You guys may remember me photographing Gabby 4 years ago when she was a relatively unknown.  Well as you know, that all changed when she won the all-around gold medal in London!  I have stayed friends with her and her family and am thrilled to see her make it back for the RIO games!  I am looking forward to seeing her try to make some history!

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NATHAN ADRIAN - SWIMMING

I photographed Nathan before the London games and we simply hit it off during our photoshoot!  He is a multiple gold medalist and looks to get more in RIO!  I had a special water splashing shot that I thought Nathan would be perfect for and as usual, he delivered!!  Can't wait to see him swim in the Olympics!

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