Almost exactly a year ago, in December 2014, myself and Vicky van der Merwe (follow her here) embarked on a collaborative photographic project.
Vicky is one of SA’s top female tri-athletes and founder of her own business, Stellenbosch Triathlon Squad.
To capture the nature and aspects that inspire an athlete of her caliber to train and compete at such a high level.
Did we think it would take over a year to complete?
But between a busy production schedule on my side and an international travel itinerary on Vicky’s, as well as life just generally happening all around, it did.
And I’m glad it did, because it tends to remind you of the effort – from both sides – that it takes to pull something like this off as a labour of love, i.e. the athlete giving their time and presence, and the photographer their time and expertise.
No payment, just the aim – the need – to create.
First up, we did the track / running part:
After this (December 2014), I think both of us thought it won’t take too long to complete the other two disciplines (swimming and running).
Oh, how wrong we were!
But we kept at it, trying to sync our schedules and, finally, perhaps ironically, we managed pencil in the swimming shoot for a day in February which turned out to be the hottest day Stellenbosch had experienced in recent memory – how’s that for planning?
Anyhow, after many attempts at arranging permission to shoot at the Coetzenburg swimming pool, we pulled it off:
Never in my life had I been so thankful for having to be in a swimming pool – the temperature almost reached 45’C!
This then only left the cycling imagery to complete.
However, between work (my daily photographic clients and Vicky’s training/competing), schedules and potential new sponsors coming on board, it took until December 2015 to nail it down.
So, we threw our stuff into my Hilux and headed out to a little quite stretch of road I know which has served as a location before:
Even though the cycling photo-shoot felt a little rushed, we had a great morning and, as these things go, I ended up liking them the most. Although the other images are also right up there.
In the end, I feel we came away with a very respectable set of images, even though it took a little longer than we would have liked.
But then again, that is exactly why I enjoy taking on collaborative projects like these: the images are a bonus, but what you learn in terms of pulling something like this off – think all the behind the scenes stuff like phone calls, e-mails, location scouting, failed attempts, meetings, permission/access, etc., etc. – is pretty much priceless experience that you can take forward with you into any photographic project, whether it be personal, or for clients 😉
Any thoughts? Comment below or hit me up on twitter!