Project Sochi of paramount importance to photographer
The Olympic spirit from Vancouver 2010 lit a fire in local photographer Mariska Richters that burns brighter than the flame at the Games and she hopes to capture more of it in Sochi, Russia.
Richters, 36, who grew up in the valley and recently moved back here, has created something she's calling the Olympic Spirit Project.
"It is my goal to publish a photo book that will spark and inspire the Olympic Spirit,'' she indicated. "The book will feature photos and stories of Olympic fans experiencing the Games in Sochi. It will feature their emotions and excitement as well as the sports and the athletes themselves.''
Her enthusiasm stems from being front and centre capturing compelling images of fans and athletes in Vancouver four years ago.
"For me in Vancouver, my biggest exposure was around the fan experience,'' Richters said. "It was an energy I've never felt in my life.''
The way it looks now, the Sochi Games aren't generating quite the same pre-Olympic jubilance and Richters would like to have a part in changing that.
"I feel that energy's been lost,'' she said. "People aren't getting as excited about the Olympics because they're hearing all those bad stories coming out of Russia.
"To me, it's just not fair to the athletes. They've worked so hard to get where they are.''
There are security concerns revolving around Sochi, with terrorist organizations issuing threats.
Richters is undeterred and feels the Sochi Games can be every bit as good as Vancouver's.
To make her fanfare project possible, she needs fundraising support to get to Sochi.
The full amount required is $7,000 that includes flights, accommodation, food, transportation in Russia, communications expenses and publishing costs.
"Flights are really expensive,'' Richters said. "I think I probably underestimated on my campaign there.''
She's already raised about 1/3 of the money required to reach her target in a very short period of time, basically since announcing her intentions last week.
"The second half is usually the hardest part,'' Richters conceded.
Her project will be much more than just the end product.
"It's a follow-along through the social media,'' she added.
Richters has already invested nearly $4,000 over and above the $7,000 required in Olympic event tickets, a Russian visa and website costs that she won't get back if she doesn't go.
If the Richters name sounds familiar, that's because her dad operated Pim's House of Photography in Duncan for many years. She basically got her feet wet in the photography industry through the business.
"Everything I learned from him, both in school and at home,'' said Richters.
Her dad taught photography at Brentwood College while she was a student there from Grade 8 through 12. She attended elementary classes from Grade 4 to 7 before that at the Waldorf School.
Richters uses state-of-the-art Nikkon equipment and intends to pack a standard 35-millimetre lens plus an 18-105 lens and a 70-300 zoom if she makes the trip.
Richters can be contacted for more information about the project at 604-802-2156 (cell) or you can check out the following websites: the Sochi project site (http://www.sochiaccess2014.com/), her personal site (http://mariskarichters.com/) or the project (http://bit.ly/spirit2014).