I have never seen or photographed Fencing in person before the Olympics. I would barely say Ive even seen it on TV. Photographing Fencing would not have been my first choice and yet I think it was one of my favorite events at The 2016 Rio Olympics. No other venue in Rio has such theatrical lighting. The arena lights are dimmed so that the stands are dark while keeping the lights on the Fencers bright. The main stage was shaped like an X with 4 different sections each colored a different color with LED lights along the sides that lit up after a point was scored.. Even the The Olympic Fencing Masks light up with LEDs.
Even if the lighting had not been amazing for Photography the actual action and acrobatics involved in fencing would be enough for me to want to go again. I photographed the Women's Fencing Sabre matches. I can only assume the men's Fencing is just as interesting but I can't image they are as Acrobatic. I think you could literally close your eyes, press the shutter and capture an amazing moment. In a single 10 frame burst during a lunge or parry you can easily capture 4 or more great images. Choosing which shots you like the most becomes the hardest part of photographing Fencing.
I shot so many images that I was happy with early in the matches I was able to start experimenting. Before I arrived at the arena I had an image in my head I wanted to capture. I made several attempts at trying to slow the shutter speed down and capture the fast motion of the lunges. this is something I have done with Athletics and other sports but I had a feeling it could really be cool with Fencing. I definitely didn't master the concept but I think I got a couple shots I liked.
If the dance like acrobatics wasn't enough to sell you on fencing, after every point scored both fencers scream in a release of emotion. Whether win or lose. For someone not familiar with Fencing the quickness of the matches and emotion of both Fencers in the end made figuring out who actually scored a point very difficult. I guess that's why they have so many digital scoreboards.
While at the Fencing matches I was lucky enough to get to see Ibtihaj Muhammad compete in several matches. Ibtihaj made headlines early as a Muslim Women on TeamUSA and for being the first US Muslim to compete while wearing a hijab. The importance of that aside she did an amazing job in the matches I watched and her friends and family who were there for support really represented the USA in a great way.