Adam Hinton: Nike Shoot
- By Adam Hinton
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We shot the 2012 Nike Make It Count campaign over a 3 week period over last December. The campaign was to be one of Nike’s largest biggest ever spends on an advertising campaign. We were to photograph 7 of their key British athletes here and in the US.
The idea of the campaign was to capture an impression of the sheer hard work and dedication that the athletes put into their chosen sport, and we had to get that across in a single image.
I spent many an hour in the advertising agency, Weiden & Kennedy, with the creative director Guy Featherstone, as we worked through the possibilities that were available to us to try and capture the intended image.
We decided that the best way to portray to achieve what Nike required was to photograph the athletes in hard physical training and to get them all to look straight into the camera when they were all at the point of their most extreme physical exertion. I had previously shown Guy some of the shots I had taken of Cuban boxers. They were shot as the boxers literally left the ring after a bout and taken against a white wall, we both felt it would be great if we could capture this feeling as well as shots during training.
One of the most difficult things working with top sports people is their availability and the extremely limited amount of time that you are able to work with them. For Nike, the opportunities to work with the athletes are also very limited. Nike’s allowance meant that they had to shoot a film as well as photographic images in a fraction of the time normally required.
We were given very strict times when we could shoot the athletes and we had to travel to wherever they were able to meet up with us for the shoot.
The first shoot was of Rio Ferdinand. We were not allowed to shoot him at the Manchester United training ground so we chose one of the local football grounds as a location. We decided to shoot him as if he was doing slaloms through a set of poles. As with all the shoots we set this up the day before with a recce, checked what the lighting conditions were going to be like at the time he was due to come the next day, and worked out where we were going to set up the white backdrop for the post training portrait shot the next day.
On the day we were given a total of 2 hours with Rio, and the unlucky producers, Donna & Nikki from Manor Media, had the job of how to work out the time slots for our advertising campaign shoot (the priority), the TV production and then the publicity shots. For each shoot we had a crew of between 40 to 60, which needed careful handling.
Rio turned up for the shoot dead on time and went straight into make-up whilst Guy & I then chatted him through what we were hoping to achieve in the press campaign. Given he had come straight from Man United’s training ground, he was totally up for it and understood exactly what we were after. He was totally professional, came straight out and got on with the job.
As I was to discover from shooting the subsequent athletes his physical ability and endurance was gob smacking. As I worked with the other athletes we began to see and appreciate the effort they put into their sport as it was written into their physicality.
When we shot Perri running over the hurdles we were able to capture the mussels in her upper body in the camera and the determination in her expression. To get her to look properly knackered for the portraits she went and sprinted around the 400 meter track a couple of times and then straight into the set up. And then did it again, and again.
Next over to the US to shoot Mo Farah who’s training over at Nike HQ in Portland. All the crew came with us and we basically re located at the running track there. Mo had been training very hard the previous day so could only give us 10 laps. That’s still 4km and he ran it hard especially for the last 800 meters, and that’s when we got the shot. It was my favourite one as was the portrait.
Image Credit: Adam Hinton - Portrait of Mo Farah
We landed back in the UK and went straight into a recce for Jack Wiltshire, Marc Cavendish and Paula Radcliff. Jack was injured so we had to shoot him in a local gym doing upper body exercises, but he did put the effort into the portrait by repeatedly doing 50 push up’s. Next morning Marc Cavendish at his local cycling clubs track. We got him to sprint straight towards to camera flat out. He came within millimetres of me each time and I daren’t move in case I knocked him over. A 06.00 call time at Battersea park the following morning for Paula the next day who was on an overnight flight from Kenya and came straight to us from Heathrow. She was totally up for the shoot and ran really hard as we forward tracked her in a buggy. At the end of each run we jumped straight into the white backdrop for the portrait.
We then got back on the plane over to the States to photograph Luol Deng who plays for the Chicago Bulls. This was the only indoor action shot where we had to use lighting. We had a full day for a pre-light and run through at the location.
It was the biggest and most complicated set up as I was using flash and TV had their own continuous lights.
Next morning we waited for Luol who arrived feeling stiff from the previous days training. Guy and I went through the shoot with him and got into a cherry picker. Luol was only happy to give us five attempts at getting the shot. On the last attempt he got the height we needed and we got the shot, a bit of a close call but Guy and I we’re very glad to get the shot. When it came to doing the portrait Luol worked his arse off with his Mel our sports choreographer, doing several drills and then jumping into the white background. Again very careful timing control from Nicki meant we got it all done.
The last shoot was back up in Manchester, Harry Maine the BMX rider. It was just the portrait shot and we had to shoot it in an apartment, as we had to do a JD fashion shoot with Danny Welbeck afterwards. Harry couldn’t get enough of a sweat up so he volunteered to run down and up five flights of stairs. He did this five times before he finally said enough was enough. Needless to say we got the shot.
Overall it was a brilliant shoot to be on and Nike and W&K loved it. The campaign ended up going as posters, bus backs, and press, everywhere. They even had it up on the London IMAX at Waterloo, which looked amazing. Nike hosted an exhibition of the work at their boutique store in Shoreditch and produced a special brochure of the shoot. It has to be one of my favourite shoots ever.