Red Bull UK called to build a portfolio for young and upcoming Joe Clarke, who was training at Wadi Adventure in Al Ain. Joe is a complete joy to work with, very accommodating and knows his sport as a slalom canoeist inside out. I had certain shots in mind and Joe would just appear in exactly the right place, again & again. We’d then review the shots and head back into the water to refine them, making them tighter and better. Collaboration is the game plan here.
Halfway through the morning, he mentioned that he’d made it into the Rio Olympics. Awesome. I’m so excited for him. The Olympics has to be considered the pinnacle of a sporting career… the opportunity to compete with the world’s best and show them what you’ve got. I can only imagine how focussed he’ll be now, as he gears up for the games.
Towards the end, I pulled out my Aquatech waterproof housing and jumped in the water with him… shortly followed by some lifeguards chasing me in with a helmet and a life vest as they’d escaped me. Whoops! I chose to shoot in the white water section rather than the calmer end basin. Slalom is about rapids and fast moving water so an underwater shot should be bursting with bubbles and energy. There’s nothing to hold on to and the bottom is slippery, so everything moves like crazy; the camera, the canoe, the athlete and myself. It’s like jumping in a tumble dryer and trying to get a straight focussed shot. Eventually, with a bit of trial and error, we nailed one super strong frame.
To wrap, I was keen to get one strong portrait. Raw background, studio lit and Joe in his racing gear, dripping wet with a determined look. To stay ‘wet’ he could either jump back into the cold water or hit the warm shower…which one would you choose?
Wishing Joe an amazing Olympics. He’s in it for the gold… so take it home!