This is probably one of the coolest gigs I have gotten yet. I was called up by SportsCar Magazine to shoot Paul Russell, one of the fastest men you will ever see in a Kart. Paul spends most of his weekdays behind a computer tearing through data maps as a software engineer, but on the weekends you might see him blow by you on the race track. He's about as fast as they come, and with that in mind the Editor said something to the tone of, "Sean we have a shoot for you, a driver by the name of Paul Russell. He works a desk job during the week and on the weekends he's burning up the track. So with that in mind we would like to do something SUPERMAN!"
With that said my gears started turing. I looked him up and his photo was just like Clark Kent. Superman it shall be. The hardest part of the shoot was gonna be convincing Paul that we promise not to make him look like a fat guy in a fire suite inside of a business suite. I knew I had some convincing to do, so I started sketching out ideas in order to sell Paul on the idea.I'm sure his first thought when he heard "Superman" is that all of his racing buddies are gonna give him shit. So it was up to me to make sure he looked as bad ass as possible, after all my name was going on this too. Plus being such a humble, quiet guy, he didn't want to come off too cocky either.
So the first idea that the editor and I discussed was having him in a fire suite with a business suite over it pulling open his chest like Superman. I wanted it low angle to make him look monumental and have his kart in the background. The third read would be the city. The main concern was that he couldn't look like a fat guy wearing 3 layers of clothing.
Concept 1: So we shot him with and without the fire suite on. Luckily I brought a "Clark Kent" looking suite cause it fit him like a glove and we ended up using that for the main shot.
Concept 3: This was a back up shot, incase he didn't like the idea. Something that looked like a nice portrait and still got the concept across.
Concept 5: Was him contemplating speed in his kart with his cape on. We didn't think this idea really convey's what Paul was about, so we decided to scratch it.
Concept 4: Was the shot I couldn't wait to do. The idea was to make him look like he was traveling at the speed of sound. Driving that kart super fast. The dream was to have this image be a fold out.
Concept 6: I wanted to having his cape wiping behind him while the karts drove by, but the race track was for solo racers and having one Kart go by just wasn't going to cut it.
As the shoot day arrived I couldn't me more excited. The editor heard from Paul and he was 100% sold on the concept. Once we met it was like magic. Rather than going for Concept 6, I decided to go with a shot of Paul burning up the track, both with his Kart as well his time on the clock.
We only had an hour to shoot so I got there early and took shots of the back ground while everyone was doing the track walk. It took about an hour to get lights set up and checked but soon we were ready for Paul. He was so much fun to work with. It was about 100 degrees and he was wearing 2 layers of clothing like it was nothing.
Once we got the shots we needed he started getting really into it. I looked at him and I said, "I want you to take that cape an throw it like you just don't give a fuck!" He nailed it on the first try. We took a few more shots but I was pretty sure we had it.
Now for the kart shots. I shot a bunch of him static so i could get all of the details and then it was off to the pan shots to get some action. After about 4 or 5 passes I figured I had enough wheels in motion to complete it.
For the cape shot we had him sit still while the assistant whipped the cape around and let it go. It didn't take long to get those shots done with all of the wind. After we finished I grabbed some shots of cones at various angles and called it a wrap.
I can honestly say I had the best time in the world and I couldn't be happier with how the images turned out. Special thanks to SportsCar Magazine, the Editor, Paul Pfanner, Philip Royal, Laurence Foster, Tony Di Zinno, Everard Williams and Bridgette McGraw.
Next week I will be featuring Jamie Bestwick and Andy Bell as the get loose in the Toyota Tundra TRD PRO.