Director of Photography: Karen Frank
Senior Photo Editor: Kristine LaMana
Creative Director: Chin Wang
Art Director: Eric Paul
Associate Art Director: Linda Root Pouder
Photographer: Ramona Rosales
Heidi: How did the project develop?
Ramona: Originally I though it was just a shoot with Chloe Kim, the other 2 assignment came later. It was mentioned in the early stages that this was for an Winter Olympics issue and that a female athlete was to be featured, which I believe was a first for the Olympics. I just shot my first Body Issue project with ESPN and was thrilled they considered me for this project since my editors thought it would be a great match.
Tell us about the set design and approach.
I liked the idea was getting her in mid air, so I studied tons of footage of her during competitions and took note of the conditions of the half pipes and environment. There wasn’t very much press or photos out in the world about her (yet), but from what I could find, I wanted to bring her personality and age into the mix and was able to pitch the idea of hoisting her in a harness with this specific body position in mid twist. I was able to present a mock up that ESPN approved and made sure the athlete was comfortable flying with ropes and able to get into the pose. It was risky since she had never done it before but her great attitude and adventurous spirt was into the idea. I collaborated with my set designer to build the top corner section of a halfpipe and chose to create at sunset sky gradation with light on a larger cyc. I didn’t want to go overall girlie with the colors and feel more environmental but also very current in color pallet to tie in her aesthetic.
What were some of the challenges?
Once we got her in the harness, I could see there was going to be challenges since it’s not the most comfortable thing to do and holding a pose can be difficult. I knew we would have little time for this shot, we did it in two 10 minute tries. We got it on the first run luckily, because by the second round you she couldn’t hide the discomfort as easily. We did another 4 set ups, including the halfpipe, cover portraits with variations, trampoline jumps and quick fun loose shots at the end. It was a full day but so rewarding in collaborating with such a fun & amazing athlete with a strong team backing her along with my team & ESPN helping me achieve a great series which forever will be a favorite.
How Important did you think it was for a woman to photograph this?
I don’t think it was necessarily important that a woman photography this project. There was a genuine connection I had with all three of the subjects on our shoots, which I think was the intention of my editors choosing me for this project along with my style and ability to pull it off. Collaboration and camaraderie with subjects are a high priority in my approach and is a big component that comes through in my work. The collective goal was to present our Olympic Athletes in a strong heroic way without striping away their personalities and only aiming for an authentic point of view, which I believe we successfully delivered.