I'm finally finished sifting through all the images from last weekend's epic shoot with Oxfam. I was covering the Trailwalker event in Sydney which raised over $3 million for the organization's amazing projects all over the world.
I flew down to shoot the 2 day race that began north of the city in Brooklyn and wrapped up 100km later where teams came stumbling across the finish line in Mosman.
Overall, I spent 35 hours of the total 48 covering the event. It was absolutely epic and quite a challenge both mentally and physically. But I learned a lot, got to experiment with some new gear and made some great photos.
The conditions were pretty wild at times which made for some interesting shooting.
It was quite tricky photographing racers in teams of 4 who had been struggling onward for hours and hours - most without stopping to sleep at all and only briefly resting at checkpoints where support crew set up elaborate stations for refueling, refilling, changing and bandaging.
Sometimes I was able to infuse the encounters with energy and enthusiasm that gave folks enough of a boost to at least fake a smile for the camera. Then there were the teams really up against the odds that basically told me to f*ck off. And of course still others that seemed to have as much energy half way through as they did at the start!
I didn't have much time to really slow down and craft images since you just kind of had to take it all as it came... But at one checkpoint I saw something I really wanted to do. So I spent some time setting up my lights and dialling it in. Eventually, I found a complete group of 4 who were happy to stand for a small session (which only took about 15 minutes to shoot... but that's asking quite a lot under these circumstances). I'm happy with how it turned out.
This shot was a real test of the speedlights. I used one 580exII and two 430exII on a Lastolite TriFlash Sync bracket which is just the coolest little toy for combining your small lights (reviewed here by everyone's favorite Strobist, David Hobby). It was midday but overcast... That's a bit of a stretch for speedlights when you can't use High Speed Sync. I had all 3 turned up to full power. Fortunately I was using a very wide lens so I could get away with f5.6 since I had to get that Oxfam banner in the background sharp enough to read. I really wanted to balance the day light against the flash with a very light touch making it look like it's not really lit. (Subtlety is a new favorite skill that I'm developing... in photography and life. Quite a leap for an American!)
As the race went on, I was uploading images to the control center for use on the websites and blogs that were constantly streaming out, keeping everyone updated. So many of the blog images are mine. Pretty cool. Here's a screen shot I grabbed from one of the blogs on the Trailwalker website. While the race was in progress I even had an image on the front page of the Oxfam website!
The crew that put together this incredible event were an absolute delight to work with... Especially the photography coordinator Michael Myers who does some fantastic shooting himself. I was so well looked after I felt like I was right at home!
So hopefully, I get to do some more work for organizations like Oxfam. I can't say I fully identify with the 'Commercial Photographer' title. I think 'Humanitarian/ World' photographer fits me a lot better. So I'll be chasing down some more gigs like this one, for sure.