Planning a photo shoot for a brand is a detailed matter. There are several things that all have to come into play at the same time, and so many things that can go wrong. However, it’s also an opportunity to really showcase the brand and to try to bring something new into the images.
The great thing about Cycology, apart from the cool and relaxed nature of the company, is the design ethos of the brand. Sarina is a real talent at graphic design, and Michael knows exactly which way the current cycling trends seem to be rolling. All this of course then brings a little added pressure, as I have to ensure that the images we capture on this spring 2019 shoot, match their expertise ... off we go then. Location wise, we chose Sibiu, the cultural and medieval city in Transylvania, both for its historic aesthetics and the fact that already knew a great cycling ambassador out there, who we’d chosen to be the main image for the new ranges.
Being a former multiple national speed skating champion turned cyclist, Larisa also has a great sporting pedigree, which is important when testing and reviewing gear. After all, style only takes you far - the performance aspect is equally as important. With 4 days of shooting to plan, it was tricky choosing the kit to take. Thankfully, Sarina has recently come out with some amazing new designs in both the casual and performance ranges, and the new accessories also look awesome. Looking through the designs and colours, it was then time to choose some initial locations to check out, where the aesthetics and medieval colours on the buildings would provide a great background and contrast to Sarina’s modern designs. Some rapidly put together online meetings and emails then gave us enough information for the photography brief. All we need now is a photographer.
Ben Thorpe is a talented photographic student at university in London and a valued member of the Cycology family, being the son of the UK Development lead, Robert. Best of all, his images are striking and fit well with the design aspect of our brand. talking through the brief with Ben, he was more than happy with the ideas that we’d put together, adding some ideas himself. Accommodation was booked in the centre of historic Sibiu, with a large and modern apartment that we could also use within the shoots. A myriad of clothing and accessories were ordered, filling a large and very bright pink suitcase for Robert to take through the airport, and the Cycology spring shoot team were off.
Our initial plan was for three aspects to the shoots: a lifestyle and indoor shoot, an urban and cafe culture shoot, and a mountain shoot, utilising the best road cycling routes in this amazing mountain area. With the sun finally beginning to shine in Europe, all was set for an amazing week in Transylvania. Based on the fact that I am: (a) not a photographer, and (b) not a model, my task on the first day was simple - unwrap the ranges and get ironing everything and hung up ready for the shoot. I guess that’s an important role. Anyway, once this was all done and the apartment was ready for the shoot, Larisa was duly prepared, all we needed was coffee and a plan. So far all was going in a very relaxed manner, but then we’d been travelling until nearly 3am this morning, so day one was always going to be a bit different.
Day one shooting was a series of both casual and performance wear, utilising the apartment aesthetics to avoid the bad weather outside. Many images of socks were taken, some casual wear images, and finally some performance wear in the kitchen area and on the indoor trainer. My role to be the person holding the reflective panel for the flash, and handing over kit when Larisa needed it - including several pairs of cycling socks! Both Ben and Larisa worked great together, really patient and detailed, as they created the shots to really show off the Cycology design ethos. Sibiu is a truly amazing place, with the colours and textures of the buildings being ideal as a photographic backdrop.
In the early evening, we walked around the city and took a driving tour to nearby places with Larisa, looking for locations for the week. Then, over dinner we planned day two and had an early night. It had gone well on day one, but there was still so much left to photograph.
What’s the most difficult role on a sports brand photo shoot - definitely the model. You have to put yourself into all manner of tricky poses, hold then for long periods, and you also have to wear tee shirts or lightweight cycling gear when it’s cold and windy outside, and you have to smile and pretend that it’s normal. Larisa was wonderful, listening to Ben on day two, as he found a location and asked her to wear the tee shirt for the shot.
She would stand in the cold wind, finding the right position and pose, whilst I simply stayed warm nearby, holding her coats and hoping to be able to pass them to her in an instant once the shot was captured. I felt somewhat guilty, wearing a warm Cycology jacket and not really doing a great deal. After a few outdoor shots, I suggested a cafe and some warm cappuccino. The cafe also gave us an opportunity to take some coffee culture shots in the warmth. After the coffee house shots, I suggested shot accessory wear images, allowing Larisa to add a neck warmer (buff style).
The historic steps and lower town medieval architecture was beautiful and amazing, allowing Ben to find great backdrops ... including a blue door and wall, which once again required a tee shirt shot ... no! I could feel the enthusiasm draining away from poor Larisa, but she simply did the shot still smiling.
A late lunch was taken in a great restaurant in town, where we decided upon a few more lifestyle images within the apartment, allowing Larisa some degree of warmth. The White Rose kit was selected, and Ben created the necessary shot, directing Larisa, who looked fabulous in the new Cycology design, and before long we had day two in the can and completed. This being a first really lengthy assignment for all three of us, it all seemed to be going well, and was definitely much harder work than we’d anticipated.
Day three and day four came and went, and thankfully the sun came out, allowing us to maximise the amazing and beautiful architecture and cultural places in and around Sibiu. There’s history around every corner of this medieval Transylvanian city and we were definitely making the most of it. The colours and designs blended well into the aesthetics of Sibiu and the team were working well.
It is absolutely clear that the most important aspect to bring to these assignments is flexibility and patience, and both Ben and Larisa have this in abundance and made sure that smiles were the order of the day.
We’d even got a few comical images for ourselves and why not, when you’re working with your very own photographer son and family friend as the cycling model.