Well, ESPN had taken it’s X Games franchise global and I’d been invited to tag along. Its super fun to shoot a X Games with the biggest names in Skate, BMX And Rally car and cities like Barcelona, Spain and Munich, Germany are places I was lucky to get to visit. But ESPN has pulled the plug on then global expansion. It was fun while it lasted
As of the 2012-2013 winter ski season I’ve had a professional relationship with The Aspen Skiing Company for 20 years. Crazy right? I’m super lucky to call Carbondale, Colorado my home and I’m doubly lucky to work with the great folks at Aspen/Snowmass.
Many of you remember last winter, while it had moments of glory, those moments were few and far between around here. It’s my job to capture some of those moments, in camera, and more specifically, last season I was charged with creating big beautiful scenics of some of the company’s great terrain. Here’s a couple of shots from this year’s assignment.
I had waited for 15 years from the first time I composed this shot until the day I finally shot it. Some times good things come to those who wait. Since so many things need to happen in order to produce a beautiful ski photograph it sometimes takes years to see a vision to fruition. The ridge these skiers are skiing on usually had bumps the size of VW bugs and so it never looks smooth and untracked and pristine. For years I would ride the chair over the very spot this shot was taken from and dream of it in a state of un-skied perfection. Last year the snow depths were so pathetic in the lower 48 that my time had finally come. ??? There was so little snow that no bumps ever developed. I waited for a storm….some snow at all……
and finally Ullr delivered. 11 inches was all it took. I haven’t yet sold this photograph but after 15 years that’s not what its about anymore. Now, finally, I can start obsessing about my next vision (there are dozens).
I’ve been sitting on this post for a month now at the request of my client who wanted this cover to be a surprise.
It’s been a great spring for me and it all culminated with this shot of Top Chef judge and critic Gail Simmons. Gail Simmons was kind enough to give me a whole day of posing and great attitude, and big smiles. The day wasn’t so much a photo shoot as it was just a fun day with a great team. It’s when all the pieces come together like this that the real magic can happen.
The assignment was another cover for Aspen Magazine and the magazine wanted something very special. I set my sights (and internet search engines) on really understanding who my subject was. What I learned, and what inspired me, was not only Gail Simmons’s striking smile but her dominating presence and no bullshit style. Remember the bit in this post about “fun day with a great team,” well that’s all good but it doesn’t always get the assignment done.
So far, I had created plenty of images of Gail Simmons with rosy cheeks and big smiles but those weren’t the images I wanted. I wanted that tough girl and I found her. We were in between locations and most of the team was taking five when Gail Simmons got a phone call. Something or someone on the line wasn’t right and out came the attitude, that tough girl. I saw her body language change and I knew that that was my chance. When she got off the phone I think I screamed at her, “that’s it!” “Don’t move!” She knew exactly what I was up to and responded perfectly. Magic! We really played it up I had her throwing popcorn at the camera. Magic!
A great portrait can take all day, a strong rapport with the subject and never letting that perfect moment slip away. How’d I do?
Thanks again to Mando-Matic.
In today’s super competitive photography market you gotta step up! Photographic retouching can be a great way to get your clients the images they need. This is not to say that you don’t need to start with great photography because you absolutely do. Even the best photo retoucher can’t output their art without solid, creative, technically accurate photography.
This assignment was a generally simple one: Grab 4 time X Games gold medalist Gretchen Bleiler and create a straight up, smiley girl, cover portrait. The client, Aspen Magazine, wanted an iconic mountain back drop. Sounds easy enough. Well, the weather never quite cooperated. Here’s a short “how to” on the creation of this cover.
First, the subject, my assistant and I boarded the chair at Aspen Highlands at 7:00am (on the originally scheduled shoot day). If the light had been nice this would have been the perfect time to create the perfect cover portrait. I’d done the scouting earlier in the week. However, a weak storm was hanging in the air and although the weather wasn’t horrid it wasn’t great either. I had two hours with Gretchen and so the shot had to go off on that morning. Okay so there was bad light for the shoot time and what did I do? I switched into retouching mode using the a strobe to create the light on the subject that the sun would have created if it had shown up for its call time (see photo 1).
Second, having noted the location of the portrait shot, I returned to the location to shoot the back drop with the iconic mountains that the client was hoping for. Once again the weather wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great. There was fresh snow and beautiful cloud patterns on the peaks but the sky was grey with another approaching storm (see photo 2)
Finally, on the third trip to the location the sky was exactly what I was looking for. I chose a piece of sky just 4 degrees to the Northwest of the original location because I liked what the clouds were doing (see photo 3).
It’s really important when you shoot with post-production in mind that you use special care to matching (if that’s your intention) the natural feel of the sun with your artificial light and staying consistent with your lens choice and aperture selection. If you want the final product to look “real” all of your pieces need to fit together. Each of these photos was shot between 7:30am and 8am on each occasion.
Need Class A Retoucher: Mando-Matic is your guy! See the final product (photo 4)
Every now and then the universe (or perhaps the master of the skiing universe) treats you to something really special. In late February my great friend and professional ski mountaineer Chris Davenport called me with the question, “do you want to drive Bentleys and go heli skiing?” If it took me 3 seconds to answer I would be surprised. I of course answered yes and at noon, the next day, two 2012 Bentley Continental GTCs drove into Chris’s driveway where he and I stood, grinning like kids in a candy shop. We were both handed the keys to our cars and off we went. The project was to be part of a Bentley promotional video that would feature Chris and I racing these incredible automobiles to Dunton Hot Springs near Rico colorado some 6 hours to our southwest and then heli skiing with Telluride Helitrax. The cars were outfitted with all sorts of POV cameras and I’ll have to admit that I felt like some kind of rock star. Or maybe just a little bit like (long pause) Jeremy Clarkson.
Bentley Motors, Inc. Head of Public Relations and Communications, Graeme Russell was in charge of the crew which included Austin Reza of Reza & Company and Foo Fighters: Back and Forth Cinematographer Harris Done.
Check out the video by Reza and Company and a few stills that I grabbed along the way.
Check it out! I busted out the seamless (yup, I do that too) and shot some product for local entrepreneurs at Strafe Outerwear http://strafeouterwear.com/ Check them out, they make great, waterproof, breathable, snowsports clothing.
I’m lucky enough to be one of less than ten ESPN staff photographers. I shoot thousands of images, these are my favorites. Torin Yater-Wallace, Russ Henshaw, Chas Guldemond and the family of Sarah Burke during a tribute to the fallen skier.
I live in the Aspen, CO economy. When it doesn’t snow (which it hasn’t this year) our little economic bubble can really tighten up. One of the smartest things that I’ve done to stay busy in a shitty economy is, stay open to all things photography. This week its food.
Photographing food can be fun and eating it tends to be one of the perks!
I’ve been busy! Check out some of my new projects, they all represent a new working relationship with www.Mando-matic.com: The first is a series of ad shots I did for a small boutique in Aspen, CO. The second is a shot of local phenom Torin Yater-Wallace that I shot for an Aspen Skiing Company’s ad on the back cover of Freeskier Magazine. The third is a portrait of Lance Armstrong that I shot for the Cover of Aspen Magazine. Thanks for looking.