My very first experience with The North Face goes back to a purchase some 25+ years ago and over the years, I’ve trashed their packs, duffles, tents, tops, base layers and shoes at exciting places all over the world. They’re an awesome outdoor brand just crying out to be played with.
So when the phone rang and Craig, their Middle East brand guy, asked if I wanted to do some trail running work with them, it was a no brainer. Their logo is on my ‘brands I would love to work for’ board so needless to say, I was eager to grab this opportunity. I did some work with The North Face brand ambassador, Dean Karnazes in ’08 and ’09 with some extreme running in Chile and China and my… recent photo gig in Jordan certainly brought back these memories.
The North Face is supporting the Dubai Trail Running club, an awesome initiative by Lee Harris to encourage current and would-be off-road runners to hit the mountain trails. Last weekend, they hosted their first trail running collaboration. I’ve been out with Lee a number of times over the years and thanks to him know the area around Showka Damm quite well. The format was pretty simple; two 12,5k loops through the stunning Hajar Mountains.
The running was of course, no problem. As for trail running, even better. And as you well know, I’m a photographer by trade! But with every shoot of this nature, there comes a challenge, in this case the combo of shooting a live event, at speed and in remote conditions. In reality, this means stripping down to minimal photo gear, being strong enough to overtake participants on single trails, to foresee the photo opportunity in advance and manage your pumping heartbeat whilst still capturing a series of sharp and well-framed images. Crazy. Not for the average photo guy for sure, but this is the kind of stuff I really love.
Obviously, with a live event you’re entirely subject to the set-up, format and conditions on the day. The route, backdrop, timings, fellow runners, branding and non-branding. But it helps to set the tone for future commercial work and the shoot turned out to be a wonderful chance to share a great experience, create stories and bond with those who love the trails as much as I do.
Somewhere at my parents house, I should even have an old The North Face catalogue dating back to the mid 80’s. When back there next, I have to dig it out, simply for the sake of reliving good memories and thinking back to where it all started.