I received a phone call from Alice Mansbridge - Senior Photo Editor at the FT in London - asking whether I would be interested in photographing some of the latest designs in snow sport clothing for the FT's Weekend Life & Arts section.
Working with Alice is always splendid and the snow & cold I love, so it had to be 'yes'. However, how does one create an Alpine feel in the Home Counties of England?
The first shoot was with Nicola and we based it at a well equipped artificial ski slope centre in Dorset called Snowtrax.
The day turned out to be the wettest this autumn with constant torrential rain, so any ideas of action shots were completely soaked out! Thinking out of the box, I asked Nicola if the centre had a service workshop, as I felt that the Norrøna gear she was wearing was rather technical and an active area where skis are waxed & tuned would compliment well.
The bad weather gods were beaten - upon entering the workshop, I was in colour contrast heaven - a serious green wall picked out the outfit's zips, whilst perfectly off-setting the deep bright purple of the Gore-Tex Pro face fabric! I proceeded to shoot a combination of Nicola in different poses - with and without technician working away in the background.
Throw in a few detail shots and another location centered in the Snowtrax shop and we completed a successful morning's work.
For fellow photo nerds - I used the simple addition of one Profoto Acute D4 light with a Profoto Softlight Reflector & 25º grid to add some contrast, 'lift' Nicola from the background and throw some better colour balance for her skin tone under some terrible over head flouro tubes.
The following week found myself and Tom at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. Housed in one huge refrigerated warehouse and sporting a 160 meter slope deep in real snow, The Snow Centre offered a little more realistic Alpine back drop.
However the slope also presented its own visual distractions - firstly, the lighting was surprisingly low (even with all the snow reflected light) and with giant non-article-appropriate sponsors plastered all over the walls, it proved tricky to place Tom and Arc’teryx in a neutral and focused pose.
Our saviour was one of their snow parks, complete with slide rails. The backdrop was 'clean' and I was able to compose a frame that injected some additional (but non distracting colour) along with texture and interest either side of Tom's focal plane.
Additional lighting is strictly prohibited on slope, so I placed a Canon 580 EX2 on top of the camera just to off-set the overhead sodium light colour cast and add just enough 'shape' to the contrast so Tom's gear came alive.
Tom and I then retired to the bar for some well earned fries and espressos before heading back into London.