On October 9th, 2001 at 6:59 a.m., I found myself sitting under 30 feet of water on the bottom of Kailua bay, a minute before the start of the Ironman World Championships. While trying to line up a school of a couple hundred fish below a school of 2,000 men, I was trying my best not get too many bubbles from my regulator into the frame.
While I was tweaking the exposure and pre-focus, I noticed in the corner of my eye that the battery was blinking. All I could think was “Oh no, my camera is going to die before the start, and I’m gonna miss it all." A moment later I could hear the muffled cannon fire and the mass of humanity swam overhead. Click, click, cli… I got about 2.5 frames in the first few seconds of the race before my camera crapped out! All I could do was swim back to land and pray that I got one usable frame out of all the time and preparation that went into that morning.
I often think that if my battery died out a second earlier, or if something else went wrong, I wouldn't have captured one of my favorite images which wound up winning 1st place for Sports at World Press Photo that year. The fish frame was one of those photos and moments you get once in your lifetime, where all the elements line up…and preparation meets opportunity.
After graduating from UCLA, Donald Miralle began his photographic career with Allsport before becoming a senior staff photographer for Getty Images. He is currently working as a freelance photographer in the San Diego area. Miralle has covered six Olympic Games and has worked with clients such as Newsweek, The New York Times, Golf Digest, ESPN the Magazine, and Nike. He has been awarded first place prizes at World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International and has served as a juror for the Best of Photojournalism sponsored by the NPPA.