Pro athletes portfolio shoot

I’m so glad we got this one together. Svetlana and I had spoken about it a number of times but trying to align her busy race schedule with my hectic shooting itinerary proved a challenge. A matching day finally arose and we certainly made great use of the opportunity. Here’s part one of a day spent with a professional triathlete.

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Prior to the shoot, I put together a moodboard with images I liked. Some very triathlon driven and others more arty and fashion oriented. For over a decade I’ve been collecting images, art pieces, ad’s and illustrations so when stepping into a portfolio shoot like this, I find it helpful to go through my… collection. It gives ideas, pushes the boundaries and most importantly, helps to match expectations with the model/athlete on the other side of the lens. I print a huge 60x100cm sheet with images and hang it on the wall. Together, we highlight or cross off what doesn’t work. It’s a live working document and when in agreement, it’s time to go out and create magic.

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From the periodical training peaks I’ve had, I know that the only way to strike balance between work, family, life, friends and long training hours is to train at the most unsociable times of the day. That’s why we found ourselves at 5am on a chilly Monday morning on the beach. This is the life of an athlete. We arrived purposely early to beat the sunrise and play with the blue morning glory and early morning swim sessions. It just works and the iconic hotel in the background rounds off the story.

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The following is a typical race simulation of a fast water entry, focusing on motion by opening the shutter speed a notch. It’s a bit techie to shoot and needs a few runs to get it right but the result works.

I was keen to get a strong headshot on location and we did. I was actually shooting some pretty average content until I turned Svetlana into the sun and the backdrop start working much better. The birds really made the shot… unintended but the image gives a movie poster kind of feel. This turned out to be her favourite too.

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Before we left the beach, we used the white sand and ocean as a backdrop for some running action shots. Nice sharp, fast sprints to show off her strong runners shape. We shot a couple of series, moving in closer to create a tighter frame. I quite like the ones that have lots of space. They give a sense of the freedom that comes from running outside.

In the afternoon, we headed out to the Al Quadra cycle track. There are certain sections with stunning dunes as a backdrop that I knew had the potential for great shots. We shot hundreds of frames… with and without strobes, long telelens work and finally some motion work from the back of a pickup. Within the mix of it all, we found a few that worked. Although I can see us coming back without the sandstorm…

Wouter-Kingma-Blog-for-Triathlete-portfolio-09We’re not done shooting yet, but first we return to the challenge of finding a date that works for both of us. We’ll then head indoors to a photo studio. More to follow…