Ever since I started shooting photos I’ve always tried my very best to be continually inspired by the work of other photographers. It’s always humbling and at the same time massively motivating to see the work of the masters of photography. Recently I’ve been hugely inspired by Peter Lindbergh and Anton Corbijn, compelling me to start my own project.
Peter Lindbergh is a German fashion photographer famous for his natural and minimalist photos of some of the most famous models in the world. In fact, he was the very person that pretty much launched the whole phenomenon of supermodels. Lindbergh basically sky-rocketed the careers of the likes of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil anyone?). What inspired me in his work was his focus on the person, instead of on their beauty or fame. Shooting in black and white in front of simple backgrounds and with his models wearing simple outfits, the photos have an incredibly pure and honest quality to them, paying tribute to the actual personality of these gorgeous women. In my own photography, I like to take a similar approach to athletes. Of course I shoot them in action, but I love showing the person behind the fame, showing what goes on behind the scenes and capturing portraits of them away from their normal habitats. I have to respect the copyright of this fellow photographer and therefore will not be posting one of his photos directly here, but I felt it was okay to embed an Instagram post. Be sure to check out some of his work through Google.
Corbijn hails from the same style as Lindbergh: pure and intimate black and white photos of some incredibly interesting and beautiful people. This fellow Dutchman focuses on shooting musicians though, having worked with some of the very greatest on earth including U2 and David Bowie. What I love about his photos is how raw and unpolished the black and white look feels. In addition, just like Lindbergh, Corbijn pulls his subjects out from their normal environments and places them in front of a simple background. His photos are simple and compelling. Corbijn manages to capture the personality of his subjects away from their usual stages, an approach I aim to use in my own work. Again, check out Google for more of Corbijn’s work, below is a shot from his Instagram feed.
My own project
Seeing so much of these photographers’ work has inspired me to shoot more portraits of the people in my own niche: top athletes. I feel that even in the crowded field of sports photography there exists a vacuum in terms of intimate portraits focusing on the actual person, instead of on the preconception society has of them. As a photographer, I always try to be cautious of forcing my image of a person on them so the final photos will comply with my preconception of them. Vital here is making a genuine connection and just having a good time, allowing the person to open up.
In order to test this concept and see what kind of light and locations I could use I enlisted the help of my girlfriend. We shot the images above, after which I could immediately apply the concept on location at the climbing world championships in Paris soon after. I managed to set up quick photoshoots with top climbers Loic Timmermans and Chloe Caullier from Belgium, and Sierra Blair Coyle from the USA. I’d worked with all three athletes before so it was easy quickly connect with them. Inspired by Corbijn I opted to shoot these photos using an analog camera, really forcing me to slow down. This is a project that I’m looking to massively expand, with other top climbers but also with athletes from other sports. Stay tuned for some more entries over the next couple of months!
Chloe Caullier from Belgium, shot in Paris
Loïc Timmermans from Belgium, shot in Paris
Sierra Blair Coyle from USA, shot in Paris