Working with Athletes
I want to talk about working with athletes again real quick because we've glanced over this and we've talked about wardrobe and unfortunately our buddy eric is not here today is probably on some exotic surf break and fiji or maui or something but we'll get him back here eventually but I want to show you some images that we actually for my portfolio that we did style on this is really about you know, going out and installing this so that it looks authentic for instance we've got the grand teton national park here reflection and we've got her in just she just in tights and just a red running jacket super simple but what I don't want to have happen is I don't want my athlete to show up and they're wearing everybody loves black I'm wearing black today right? Black black is always in her is wearing a black jacket cause all of a sudden she blends into this landscape and this isn't a picture nobody notices that there's a runner and here they go oh that's a pretty you know reflection but what ...
I'm trying to do is is how people look at the image and they'd be like oh cool there's somebody in there like this you want it to feel authentic were in iceland if there's a fire there's a tent uh you know I want them to be appropriately uh dressed they're wearing beanies it looks like it's not on the beach in florida right? So we're again we're putting wardrobe on them that is appropriate to the scene ah we're adding splashes of color two scenes where just that little bit of the green surfboard he doesn't have a really bright jacket on but just that little splash of color is something that all of a sudden draws us in and this these were what I would consider well styled ah and for me personally this is a really great image because it's not heavily branded there's not a bunch of logo's uh I work with the backpack manufacturer so they're super excited, but even if it doesn't go directly to them, somebody else isn't going so we don't want that shot because we know that that's a backpack this from a competitive brand so we've thought through this whole process and, uh, you know, we're putting our self in that position to get these images ah, this was a shoot for a client and I you know how hard it is to find a cycling kit that doesn't have like a thousand logos well, I eventually found one and we put this together and they were really excited with this this is a really simple shot in colorado near red rocks and this is really applicable to it could be health care, it could be travel, it could be fitness, it could be you know a myriad of different things I've shot an image which has hopefully legs to go in a lot of different places so by picking that wardrobe you know the very first thing I do when we come up with the shooters is go okay what's the theme right? What kind of clothes they're gonna wear and where we're going to go? Um yes the uh the last image for the lighting did you use your put the pro photo that was just one pro photo off camera and I actually just had it on a reflector in that sense uh just one light and a reflector you see how he's a little bit harsher there you know it's not his large of a light source so there's a little more shadow but I wanted it to be very kind of edgy, you know, because it's kind of an action shot so it's just if you look at the shadow and you were to draw a line from where that shadow goes there's just one strobe off camera that's lighting this guy up and this ironically this was shot with a point and shoot camera so uh kind of kind of funny but just appointed shoot camera it was actually, uh shot I did for the uh nikon w uh what was it a one camera which is kind of cool um so in this sunrise you're like, well, she's a silhouette yes, but we're still styling these shots she's wearing form fitting clothes she's not wearing a puffy coat she's not wearing a sloppy jacket because all of a sudden I want her to look as fit and as good as possible so we're again we're thinking ahead even though it's a silhouette I'm so picking the wardrobe based on what's going to go and see the tops actually kind of a rusty orange so when the light got better later it's going to compliment that sort of orange sky similar shot here in iceland we've got monochromatic giving it a really sort of a timeless feel and so on and so forth so uh so that's our are sort of wardrobe selection here and uh we have some more questions we on yeah we dio actually I've got some questions I know at this point we would really love to tap you you are you know you're a world class adventure photographer but you're kind of you by the way will you are and I mean just looking a resume and we'll see, you know, sports illustrated, national geographic, espn you're working with some of the you know, the most famous athletes in the whole world so I just want to throw a few questions your way and just we want to tap you right before you leave us it's coming it's coming quickly but just a couple of questions one one just for me personally when you first started how did you find athletes toe work with yeah that's that's that's a very good question that's one of the biggest questions like um for me starting out I worked with my friends uh I grew up skiing in colorado and I would take my friends out and eventually that you know and that was great because I was out learning the nuts and bolts of photography I was learning how you know what worked and what didn't work and I remember after moving to jackson hole wyoming, which I live for numerous years sending a submission for to powder magazine and the photo editor being very kind and actually writing me back and saying this is a great shot because my buddy had just gone off looking a foot cliff and but he was rolling down the windows which is determined skiing that you know means your arms your way out you don't you're not very you don't look good in the air and I hadn't noticed it until that moment I never I noticed that one subtle nuance where a professional athlete or somebody was a very good skier his arms aaron and there's actually formed to it and so then I said, oh, well, I need to step up my game I'm noticing I'm learning the nuances of this sport s o the next thing I did was I called the local you know, rental shop and I said, hey, I know you guys have a lot of guys that are just you know, they're kind of you know, ski bums but they are here to ski is there anybody who's an amazing skier like, oh yeah cody in the back that guy rips you should go out with him so all of a sudden I'm going out with cody on that's applicable tio anybody wherever you are, whether you live on the coast and you have a surf shop there's probably a local who's great, you can go to climbing gyms a lot of these record, you know, thes ni specific uh uh stores are gold mines there, the local skate shop may have guys that could be totally pro, but they just like to skate on dh, so going out and finding out and or putting an ad on craigslist for people saying, you know, I'm looking for these kinds of athletes will share these images for portfolio there's people looking to find sponsorship in these numerous sports and need portrait's and I need action shots. So going out in first of all, going to these stores, putting an ad on craigslist and we're just going out and into that community whether it's the beach and and talking to the guys and they walk out of the water mean like, hey johnny you ripped today I've got some great shots do you mind if I show you and building that relationship thes air all things that you have to do no one's going to just contact you as you're sitting at your desk uh you know editing your photos and say, hey, I want to work with you you need to put yourself out there and you just start making those connections it's the same thing is building a business and building your brand your building those collaborative relationships which allow you teo make better pictures because better athletes make better pictures let's let's keep moving down this this topic I really like this can you talk about what are the best ways and important elements and building that good relationship with an athlete with what's your m o well, I mean, I'm going to go with what I learned in first grade treat people how you expect to be treated uh is the first and foremost things you know, we live in this very fast paced environment where we're emailing were texting, you know, take the time, send people a thank you note, you know, build that relationship and I understand that you know, they may not drop everything for you every time you call and ask for something but try to understand where they're coming from put yourself in their shoes and make sure that you're open and honest about that sort of athlete photographer relationship and what you expect uh or we're will allow them to do with the photos make sure that you're that they understand that sure, these air great for your personal portfolio when you're when you're reaching out to potential sponsors. But if a sponsor picks you up and they want to use this for an advertisement, please refer them back to me on being open and honest in the first part will we'll alleviate any bumps in the road down? You know, down the way essentially so by being honest and, you know, treating people like you want want to be treated and working hard, I think that that is the way to build a good relationship. Fantastic. So this is a two part question. What sport did you start with and what advice would you have toe our audience about what sport they should start with? So the sport that I started with was skiing. I grew up skiing in western colorado on a podunk little ski hill, and after college I moved to jackson hole because I wanted teo photograph er in in a much more interesting place colorado's absolutely beautiful, but I wanted to photograph these steep, expansive mountains, and like I said, I started photographing with my friends, and then you moved on from there, uh and it's really a personal thing is there's no if somebody's trying to get into this there isn't a sport I would recommend that they uh go out and photograph it's what's interesting to you I mean if you love lacrosse and that's the thing that you really like love to go on watch photograph if you love surfing go photograph surfing uh if you love chess photograph chess I mean it may not be an action sport but you know there may be something I knew you know you know there's no right or wrong it's whatever you're interested in because really the moral of story is that you need to tow learn everything about that sport so that you could be the person that goes out and can make those really dynamic and interesting images because you know more about it than anybody else so let's let's keep going with that how how do you do research for for a particular sport so you know where exactly and when to get the right shot so the first thing you can do is is go out and find magazines or publications that are about uh that knee specific sport if it were surfing it would be surfline servers journal surfing magazine and you go and you look at the images that they publish because obviously they are the uh a periodical of record they're publishing what is current and you're seeing the style of photography that they're using I wouldn't say go out and copy that per se but understand look at the nuances of those image images are they publishing all action aerial shots? Are they publishing mohr of the lifestyle shots the behind the scenes moment some what are they publishing if it's skateboard magazine are they publishing everything that's lit is everything lit or is it all available light is it greedy in black and white is it in color you know going and actually doing it tally and saying well they publish forty seven pictures this month and twenty seven of them were black and white on dh they were all with with some kind of strobe like okay now I have a formula for what's acceptable in the industry and then go out from there and take your own spin on it and do something unique and different what advice the biggest piece of advice that you can give aspiring um action sport yeah photographers for how to get started you know go out be passionate work hard put yourself out there and don't be afraid teo fall on your face you know go out there and make mistakes because you don't learn unless you make mistakes and you know I'm gonna go back to the beginning and it's you know crawl before you walk and walk before you run because if eventually if you're going to do this a big publication or a big client is going to call you and you know, you're going to get that job, so make sure you're ready for that step. If sports illustrated college tomorrow and says, I want you to do the assignment, be ready to do that assignment. Ready to knock that out of the park.