As the U.S. fencing team captured its historic sixth medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, flashbulbs of the press corps from around the world erupted. Among the crowd, one photographer alone was entrusted by both the U.S. Fencing Association (USFA), the International Fencing Federation (FIE), and most importantly by the athletes themselves to capture the moment.
In fact, Serge Timacheff was the only photographer credentialed directly by the International Fencing Federation to photograph fencing at the Olympic Games. A nationally ranked fencer himself who competes frequently at championships in the U.S. and abroad, Serge travels the globe with camera in-hand thrusting himself in the midst of people pushing the bounds of physical endeavor. His dynamic work is sought after by the likes of Corbis International and leading publications. As a leading photography expert, Serge has also authored and co-authored multiple books on digital photography, including three titles this year, Canon EOS Photo Workshop, The Image of Fencing, and Digital Photography for Dummies (sixth edition; co-authored with Julie King). He and his wife also co-founded Tiger Mountain Photo, which handles portrait, commercial, event, wedding, and commercial photography; the studio owns FencingPhotos.com, now the world's largest collection of professional fencing images.
PPSI helps make shooting the Olympics manageable.
Serge's association with the Olympics began with a chance encounter in 2003 with the president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE), who was also a member of the International Olympic Committee that oversees Olympic fencing. Since then, Serge has logged more than one million images of the world's greatest fencers. His work presents the public face of this time-honored international sport and his portfolio includes the definitive images of fencing that adorn leading publications, from fencing magazines such as Escrime and American Fencing to mainstream magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Cosmopolitan. As the official FIE photographer, he also has to shoot important events and individuals associated with world sports, such as recently in Beijing where he photographed Jacques Rogge (the International Olympic Committee president), Prince Albert of Monaco, Henry Kissinger, President Bush with the U.S. fencing team, and numerous other VIPs and celebrities.
Given his heavy travel schedule, it is not surprising that developing a strong online presence appealed to Serge. In fact, Serge began his move to online sales of his work as early as 2001. Applying his technical familiarity (he's worked as a senior editor for InfoWorld and at leading technology companies such as Logitech), Serge carefully evaluated nearly every Web-based pro service that has come to market.
"What quickly became clear to me was that few services truly understood this business," said Serge. "Most photographers don't want to become Web developers and IT specialists. PPSI gets this and at every turn they present tools, teaching, and expert support that simplify the building of an online business."
Speed and efficiency are an important part of Serge's business.
While shooting events such as the U.S. Nationals, World Championships, or the Olympics, Serge tries to add material to his PPSI galleries every day. "Competition days can be ten or twelve hours long. These days, however, result in images that competitors and others expect to see nearly immediately, whether it's a shot of a medal ceremony or an action shot from a gold-medal bout. I have competitors coming to me directly from the medal stand asking to see my photographs. PPSI enables me to indulge that demand, giving the excited competitors, as well as virtually anyone worldwide, the chance to see my photos while the level of excitement is at its peak."
Event organizers also appreciate what Serge is able to offer through his PPSI site. "It doesn't matter whether I am shooting a local competition or a global event, branding is very important to event organizers. PPSI's templates make it easy for me to offer creatively designed prints with logos, event names, and other event-specific designs. These are the kinds of things that turn a simple photograph into a keepsake that forever ties the individual to an event or an organization."
"Shooting an event like the Olympics is actually a long series of projects. I used my PPSI account to organize galleries to meet a wide range of requirements. Of course, the athletes as well as their friends and families come to us for photos, and so do equipment companies, newspapers, magazines, TV shows, and other organizations specifically involved in fencing. We are, in essence, an extension of the FIE's and USFA's publicity efforts. Our site is directly linked to from the FIE and USFA Web sites, providing publications worldwide with easy access to editorial photos that they can purchase and download. We support fencing federations worldwide by hosting galleries used for fundraising events and to promote tournaments. PPSI makes it easy to manage and develop a multifaceted business."
With such broad business interests and a relentless travel schedule, Serge relies on PPSI to provide a steady anchor and partner for his operations. "As my business has evolved I have tried a lot of services and approaches to online business. PPSI continues to come out on top in service, products, and support. My clientele have come to expect the service and polish that they offer."