Behind the lens: how this stunning Rio 2016 Olympic Games image was shot

Joel Marklund

With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games well underway, we've been treated to some stunning imagery in the last week. The Olympics are a photographer's dream, with no shortage of dramatic and action-packed images that make us go 'wow' when we see them.

One such image was by Joel Marklund. A photographer for Bildbyrån – Sweden's leading sports photo agency – as well as an Ambassador for Nikon Europe, Joel captured this stunning image of swimmer Sarah Sjöström.

Sjöström is Sweden's most successful swimmer of the last few years, and is an athlete Joel has followed and photographed as her career has progressed over the years, first shooting her portrait when she was just 13.

As a professional sports photographer, Joel has covered pretty much every major sporting event, including Wimbledon, but nerves set in when Sjöström lined up for the women's 100m butterfly final.

"I never get nervous at work," explains Joel. "Not when covering the 100 metres final starring Usain Bolt, not even when shooting the Sweden vs Canada ice hockey final at the Sochi Olympics. But this time something was different."

Joel needn't have worried though; not only did Sjöström win gold, she also broke the world record for the women's 100m butterfly. "Having seen her transformation through the years, the ups and downs in her career and knowing the pressure that built up to this final, I felt a huge relief when she eventually crushed the competition in the race," he adds. "I guess that was a good kind of nervousness!"

Why it works

We love the framing of this shot, with Sjöström positioned perfectly in the centre, while the swimmers either side provide balance and symmetry. Using a ultra-wide Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at its widest end has allowed Joel to deliver a dynamic view, while the bold colours of Sjöström's swimsuit and hat make her stand out nicely, the effect accentuated by the lovely sliver of rim lighting either side of her from the bright stadium lights.

Finally, the timing is perfect – even though Joel has the luxury of the D4S's 11 frames per second burst shooting, it still requires a great deal of skill to get a frame like this.

Image copyright: Joel Marklund / BILDBYRÅN. For more images, visit the Nikon blog.

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.