Behind the lens with an award-winning sports photographer

A veteran of the last four Olympic regattas, the award-winning photographer has followed boats around the world, from the Acropolis of Athens 2004 to the "quintessentially British" setting of London 2012.

His portfolio comprises hundreds of Formula One races, numerous football, rugby and cricket World Cups, as well as coverage of the English Premier League.

And among Mason's many awards, the Getty Images photographer was recently awarded the prize for the "Best Olympic Portfolio" at the British Sports Journalists' Association awards, in recognition of his work at Rio 2016.

Take a look at the 10 photos that impressed the judges and find out about the challenges of documenting elite sport below...

Andreas Cariolou, RS-X (Cyprus)

The sun was beginning to set over the Marina da Glória and Mason was finishing up for the day. All he needed was that one perfect shot and, "as if by magic," Cypriot windsurfer Andreas Cariolou glided directly past the press boat as he made his way to shore.

READ: Overboard, 1,000 miles from shore

Ben Saxton & Nicola Groves, Nacra 17 (Great Britain)

Sailors are not averse to "playing up" for the cameras, jokes Mason, telling CNN the more brazen showboaters will deliberately seek to sail past the working press.

Nathan Outteridge, 49er skiff (Australia)

But the photographer's craft is also about intensely "personal" moments. Mason says he was "lucky" to get the opportunity to shoot Australian sailor Nathan Outteridge washing down his boat in this pragmatic, four or five days before the hustle and bustle of Olympic competition.

"I love this picture," Mason says, telling CNN he and his fellow professionals sometimes find themselves forming bonds with the athletes they cover over the years, quietly sharing their moments of victory.

Ben Saxton & Nicola Groves, Nacra 17 (Great Britain)

As the events started and windsurfers, dinghies and skiffs flew by in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, Mason freely admits Rio 2016 became as much about the topography as the sailing talent.

READ: Dark seas, vast skies and full sails

Pablo Abella & Mariana Costa, Nacra 17 (Uruguay)

At times, the photographers had to remind themselves what they were actually there to shoot. After all, "not every picture could look like a chocolate box."

Finn Class in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain

This image, taken "late in the afternoon" on the Copacabana, depicts the "abstract" sails of the Finn fleet positioned directly below Christ the Redeemer. It's a photo that could adorn the wall of any home; indeed, Mason confirms he's had numerous requests for prints.

Giles Scott, Finn class (Great Britain)

But there was a whole lot more to Rio 2016 than stunning scenery. In this image, Mason captures the exact moment Giles Scott realizes he has sealed the gold medal for Great Britain. It's the final product of careful planning on the part of the photographer -- Scott's lead was already unassailable the day before the medal race.

Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves, Nacra 17 (Great Britain)

Mason describes the image of Scott's elation as "one the nicest, cleanest" he's ever taken -- explaining the ultimate aim is always "a picture that tells a story with a key moment, key athlete and beautiful light."

But sometimes it's about pure action. Here, a member of the Nacra 17 Olympic fleet fights with testing winds on the Rio waters.

Mathew Belcher & Will Ryan, 470 class (Australia)

The photographer was "in the lap of the Gods" for this shot as he hung from side of a boat and utilized an underwater housing. Finely framed, "the crest of the water leads into the shape of the sail."

Mariana Costa & Pablo Abella, Nacra 17 (Uruguay)

"The day you stop thinking creatively, you become a machine," Mason concludes, admitting it's "a huge sacrifice" spending so much time away from family.

The pressure can be intense, burdened with the knowledge there are hoards of aspiring professionals "biting at the ankles" just waiting to take your place.

Interested in professional sports photography? Find out how to capture the world's fastest drivers

But after covering everything from the early stages of an Olympic sailing regatta to the FIFA World Cup final, this photographer has no intention of quitting.



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