Taking pictures of people having their picture taken in front of the Olympic cauldron - Macleans.ca

Taking pictures of people having their picture taken in front of the Olympic cauldron

Smile. I said: SMILE.


It’s quite a shock to come to Vancouver from Whistler. Despite the Olympic presence, the mountain resort retains its small-town feeling. It’s crowded but there are few lines and fewer delays. Vancouver is a madhouse. The entire downtown is like the scene at the pier in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. Today, I counted 57 people in line… at a hot dog vendor.

Down the street, meanwhile, the queue for the Olympic Super Store at The Bay was at least two hours long. And what the people didn’t know – and I didn’t have the heart to tell them – was that another punishing lineup awaited: the one to pay. I walked slowly along the queue and, at the risk of feeding a stereotype, I can only tell you the truth: The women were, for the most part, cheery and chatty; as for the men – let’s just say I haven’t seen this many looks of distress and resignation on men since the invention of chastity.

I also spent some time at the Olympic cauldron. No one just comes to see the cauldron. People come to take photos of the cauldron – which, by the way, in person is even uglier than it appears on television. It looks like an industrial plumbing job gone horribly awry. With the fire shooting out the top, I think of it as the Devil’s Toilet.

As a photographic attraction, however, the cauldron is a blast to hang around, because it’s never a long wait to get an earful of some quality parenting. “Jeremy,” one woman shrieked – shrieked – at her little boy. “You smile right now or we’re getting back on that bus.” I was standing with an Olympic volunteer when this happened and she didn’t even flinch. “Heard way worse,” she said.

Here are some photos of people having their photos taken in front of the Olympic cauldron. In the spirit of the film Zoolander, all the poses have been given names.

The “Lone Wolf”

The “When You’ve Got Six Kids, Having Four of Them Face the Camera and Smile is Really the Best You Can Hope For”

The “Sears Catalog”

The “Before Mom Yelled at Us to Smile”

The “After Mom Yelled at Us to Smile”

The “You’ve Got All Day, Right Mom?” I

The “You’ve Got All Day, Right Mom?” II

The “You’ve Got All Day, Right Mom?” III

The “Great, it’s the 438th Photo of Her Holding Minnie Mouse in Front of Her Face”

The “Make Sure You’ve Got Dan’s Forklift in the Shot – The Forklift’s in the Shot, Right?”

The “Get Me From Behind So It’s Looks Like I’m Gazing Pensively When in Fact Everyone’s Yelling at Me to Get a Move On Because the Line to Take a Photo from the Platform is 90 Minutes Long, For Crissake”


Taking pictures of people having their picture taken in front of the Olympic cauldron

  1. You were there for the invention of chastity? Tell us more!

    • Co-oincidence?

    • pretty sure it was invented on my prom night.

  2. Worst. Olympic Cauldron. Ever.

    Except for the malfunctioning one.

    So yes, I'm rating them both below the one the Nazis built:


    Having seen these pictures Scott, I gotta say, the only problem with the fence is that it doesn't completely block the view.

    • And he has seen 'em all!!

  3. It's a sad reflection on our modern society that we need to put a barricade between man and fire. Discuss.

  4. But they're all in the "Who is that creepy guy who seems to be taking pictures of people instead of the torch" folder.

  5. In the spirit of Zoolander …. "Gold Steel …. FLAMING!!"

  6. According to the organizers, the violent display of those protesters smashing windows, etc. forced them to put up that fence

    • I understood that it was because the cauldren is located inside the International Media Centre's security perimeter – nothing to do with the protesters.

  7. Geez, Feschuk. Would it have killed you to offer to snap the photo for Mr. Lone Wolf, there? Noooooo, you just take your own picture of this guy struggling with his own camera. Where are your golly-gee nice Canadian bonafides?

    • I offered! i swear. dude wanted to do it himself, and he took about 20 photos – including a bunch wearing sunglasses.

      I did, however, snap approximately 2.96 million photos of other people, all of whom handed me their cameras and said, "Just push this button." Really? You have to push the button? Doesn't operate telepathically? Thanks for the tip.

      • Well, there's zoom and focus and aperture and any number of gizmos that could be adjusted. You'd have preferred they give you the Japanese-language owner's manual?

        But, your 2.96 million selfless acts mean you have earned the right to put those red mittens back on. Carry on, then.

      • Well can you blame him? That looks like a pretty snazzy camera. I wouldn't hand it off to just any nationally read satrical writer.

  8. Another excellent post, Feschuk. Very funny indeed.

    "The “Before Mom Yelled at Us to Smile”

    I think the kids were right not to smile, they look worse in 'after' photo than 'before' one. And the two boys mugging for camera brings back memories of my childhood and being told to smarten up.

  9. What an uninspiring site for photos — looks like a construction yard, or an airport with all the fencing. And that cauldron. Wow, it's hideous.

  10. The Olympic cauldron up close:

    Looks to me like four cigarettes in an ashtray with a fat stogie crammed in the middle.

  11. I'm pretty sure they are giant crack pipes, and that's why they needed the fence and security guards.

  12. My Comment's

  13. Pretty funny when you stop and look at human behavior, but we all do this in one way or another. The pictures are classic and your comments are awesome.

  14. The Olympics sure has shown me a lot of weird behaviors from people. The rules get thrown out the window when you're in tourist mode.

  15. a first time I laughed really really loud reading an article in any publication…..this is wonderful reporting. Please, write a book!

  16. The “When You've Got Six Kids, Having Four of Them Face the Camera and Smile is Really the Best You Can Hope For”

    And since five of them are actually facing the camera… IT'S A PERSONAL BEST!!!!

  17. I love watching people take pictures of themselves.