Red Bull /Olympic Hopefuls
Creative Directors: Ryan Snyder, Ilana Taub
Photo Editor: Marv Watson
Photography: Stan Evans
Photo Assistants: West Coast: Cory Steffen/ East Coast: Will Crakes
Hair: / MUA/ Laura Fey
Styling: Stan Evans/ Laura Fey
(Grete Eliassen) Grete is the best all around female skier I’ve ever seen but the truth is I’m always excited to bring out her feminine side and show her in another light. 99.9% of the time she’s in a helmet or ski gear but for this moment I got her to wear a dress. Originally she wasn’t quite feeling it (mainly because of the cold) but I said when you see the image that’s in my head, this will be the photo you show your grand kids to remind them how beautiful you were.
(Louie Vito) Louie is probable the best athlete I’ve ever shot. He is always early, always cracking jokes, always making people feel at home which was the beauty of this shoot. I got to turn Louie into someone else besides “Mr. Nice Guy”. I love the camera for the simple fact that you can take a person’s persona and flip it on it’s head.
(Bobby Brown) I’d never met Bobby before but he was a consummate pro. He cared just as much about the portrait process as the action photos which is rare for an action sports athlete.
(Greg Bretz) Greg was pretty much in a media sponsor frenzy when I shot these photos. He looked to be the first lock on the Olympic Halfpipe selection and you could tell he had alot of interviews on his plate. Pretty much the last thing you want to hear as a snowboarder is “some guy from New York” is here to take your photo. That usually equates to “guy in the sky” and missed grabbed photos with poor style. Two things the core audience of snowboarding hates. I try to stay true to my roots and remember where I came from so I made it quick for Greg and got these shots in 2 takes. I saw Greg at breakfast later that week told him, by the way, I shot snowboarding for 15+ years and I grew up in Alaska.
(Arielle Gold) For this shot I literally introduced myself on the side of the halfpipe. “Hi I’m Stan Evans and I’m here to shoot your portrait for Red Bull!” This was during practice for the final so I would literally caught her hiking to do another run. I was actually lined up on the wrong wall for her action shot and practice ended so I hustled back up at night time (about 10 degrees) and got the action portion of her then.
(Nick Goepper) Sometime in all the seriousness of preparing for the the olympics we forget these are kids. So for Nick’s shoot it was all about fun. It was pretty fun convincing him to do a cartwheel in ski boots and he had the biggest grin when I asked him to backflip with my camera. He asked, “what happens if i wreck?” I told him I have insurance…. but don’t wreck. (it’s a canon 5d mark II in his hand that I remote triggered from the ground) If you look closely you can see me bottom left.
Heidi: Had you pitched Red Bull projects previously? Or was this the first open assignment with them?
Stan: Yes, here’s a list of what I had pitched and executed for them:
Grete Eliassen Movie: “Say My Name”
Travis Rice portraits: “That’s it, That’s All”, Mainstream Media ( below )
Edwin De La Rosa: BMX Portraits ( below )
For Travis Rice, “That It, That’s ‘s All” I shot test samples and had meetings with Travis, Brainfarm Producers and Red Bull, the goal was to shoot for a mainstream audience so it wasn’t as much about his performance on a snowboard as it was building a compelling character.
The pitch for Grete’s movie actually took about 8 months. It ended up being a two year project We created a teaser and photos compiled of Grete adventures of what logged the first year and coordinated it with outlets that had already expressed interests in the project and projected views. Grete, Adam Bebout, her regional athlete Manger and I flew down to Red Bull and we pitched in person. They warmed up to it a bit but what took it over the top was the hip jump idea. It was something that differentiated it from other female ski projects and opened the appeal to a larger audience. The general public might not understand skiing but the idea that a woman could fly 30+ feet in the air and create a world record was something a lot of people could be excited about.
Here’s a few pages from the Virulence Report from my office which was for interest in the movie before hand. After Grete’s hip jump/world record the impressions were 33 million the first month by Red Bull’s analytics team.
What were the directives from the brand?
Red Bull wanted portraits that were compelling to mainstream media but could still live within endemic media. Logo placement is always imperative but I try to blend it subtly. It was nice because action was secondary but I think being able to handle both sides of the spectrum was a large selling point for them.
My guess is you’re also an athlete adventurer. How does that play into your work?
I love the outdoors and being a part of the action but being snowboard photographer started to take it’s toll. I actually was in a car accident on my way to filming a part of Grete’s movie. I chipped off a piece of bone in my kneecap and after 6 knee surgeries I was ready to take a different direction so I started focusing on portraits. If anything I’ve probably toned it down a bit. It lets me see more of the quiet moments between the action and helps humanize people. I still love risky jobs and exploring in that I connect with the subjects because they realize I know what they are going through and as a photographer, I’m trying to make them look their absolute best.
The biggest oxymoron is being on a set in NYC where people act as if something goes wrong someone might die as opposed to being on the side of a mountain in Alaska where someone actually could die.
For example, before Kevin Pearce there was Timmy Ostler. Tim was an amazing snowboarder that I was shooting at Park City. He had a freak fall in the halfpipe, was heli-evaced and consequently paralyzed from the waist down. Those moments change you. I’m not trying to be a downer but those moments make you realize what’s at stake on set or in the studio. I’m so thankful I get to do what I do, and I try to remember that, as well as remind those around me. Positivity and being happy to be there are a huge part of my shoots because in the back of my mind I realize, this can all be taken away in an instant.
What was the biggest hurdle with the assignment?
Weather is always a factor. For the Grand Prix it snowed ton during qualifiers and people could barely get speed for jumps. It made for pretty lackluster action and inopportune for some of the locations I had scouted. I usually try to have a plan B – get creative and adapt. Grete’s location was really the only specific parameter I had to nail. Schedule was probably the other, many of the athletes had overlapping practice or events, other sponsor commitments and competing with television and other media outlets . But sometimes that worked out. I met one of the hosts for NBC and showed him some of the photos of Louie. They ended up using them in a “Road to Sochi” spot so turnaround was quick and I caught a lucky break.
How long did you spend with the athletes in order to capture the non action side of them?
Sometimes 5 – 10 minutes, sometimes days.
I had a hard time tracking down Arielle Gold. I literally saw her at the halfpipe, introduced myself, shot her portrait and action on the spot. For Louie we actually talked quite a bit and he invited me to his home. I was immersed in his training regimen. I ate what he ate. Woke up when he did and would get the gym before him to set up. It made for an amazing experience and it shows in the photos. We ended up having a great spread of photos of everything he did but the edit focused on his physique.
Grete is beautiful woman and was probably the most challenging yet rewarding to shoot. I wanted her to look feminine and have the environment and props tell the story. She really is standing in the woods in 15 degrees with a pair of skis in a dress. That’s amazing trust.
Bobby Brown was probably my favorite though. I had him for about 45 mins. Once he came on set he was invested. He was so curious about the process and how he could help make the shot better. Never looked at his watch, never told me he had places to be. A consummate pro – I was really happy he fought through some injuries and made the Olympic team… I’m a Bobby Brown fan for life.