Winter Olympics just a click away
By RANDY GONZALES
Even though he has traveled across the United States and around the world in his job as a staff photographer for the Associated Press, some of Charlie Riedel's favorite pictures are ones he took while working for The Hays Daily News.
"Some of my favorite photos were taken at the Hays Daily, where I had the great opportunity to document a community and some of the quiet moments of every day life that often get overlooked working at bigger papers or wire services," Riedel said earlier this week via email from Sochi, Russia, where he is shooting the Winter Olympics. "One of my favorite sports photos was taken at Hays -- a photo of FHSU's Ray Lee cutting a net at basketball."
Riedel, a 1983 Fort Hays State University graduate, worked at the HDN from December 1983 to October 2000, when he left to take a job with the AP bureau in Kansas City, Mo.
Riedel had assignments beyond the region, though, covering events such as the World Trade Center attack in New York, Mississippi River flooding and wildfires in Colorado.
After approximately five years, Riedel began to branch out to national assignments, doing more sports in addition to news.
In addition to Kansas State University and University of Kansas football and basketball games, for the last six or seven years, Riedel has counted among his assignments spring training, the Masters, Kentucky Derby, the World Series, some of golf's other majors, Formula 1 racing, U.S. Open tennis, the BCS title games and the Super Bowl.
After shooting this year's Super Bowl in the New York City area, Riedel flew to Sochi the next day for Olympic coverage, starting with the opening ceremonies.
"I am a roaming photographer in the mountain venues about 50 kilometers from Sochi," Riedel said. "I help at the various venues as needed and requested by the editors at those events.
"Each Olympic event has a dedicated team of photographers/editors working solely that event. I go to that venue and help that team on days they have more important or medal competitions. On other days, I can go to venues of my choice and just try to make more unique or unusual photos to add a little more variety to our photo report."
Riedel said he has heard the stories of problems associated with living quarters for journalists and athletes, but had no first-hand knowledge of such problems.
"My hotel is fine and similar to any average American hotel," he said.
Riedel said he was not concerned about safety due to terrorist threats during his stay in Sochi, his fourth Olympics.
"Those things are pretty much out of my control anyway, but there are so many police and security on the streets and at the venues that I'm not really worried about crime or terrorism," he said.
Riedel, 52, also has traveled for news assignments ranging from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to the gulf oil spill, as well as following John Edwards on the campaign trail and Prince William and Kate on their tour of Canada.
Riedel said it would be tough to pick any one favorite photo.
"Some photos I like because they impacted a lot of people -- like the photos of oily birds taken at the gulf oil spill," Riedel said. "Some I just like because they are pretty -- like some of the scenic photos I've taken of the moon and sunsets. Some I like because they show brave people dealing with epic problems, like some of the tornado, hurricane and wildfire coverage."
Riedel and his wife, Denise, have three children. They make their home in Overland Park -- when Riedel isn't on assignment.