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10/05/2009

Sportraits revisited

Steve Russell, Staff Photographer

One of the things to consider and that weigh heavily on an athletes mind is sponsorship. In my previous sportrait posting involving the three top alpine skiers, the event was hosted by GMC, the photo opportunity was in front of a truck. I took a quick picture of that set-up and used it to shoot some tighter images of the athletes, but, when shooting athletes you cannot escape the badges of sponsorship.

I don't have a problem with having a logo on an athlete, we are always begging for corporate Canada to set up and help out, so when they do, I don't mind when an athlete's gear or uniform sport a logo or two or more.

Sponsorships sometimes do present some unique situations when shooting athletes.

In the build up to the 2006 Olympic games in Turin (or Torino), Randy Starkman and I took a trip out to Alberta to visit some of the athletes training. We visited the first couple of skis Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi at there home in Canmore Alberta.

I shot each of the two as Randy interviewed the other. Their backyard was a nice spot and I only had to be mindful of a couple pieces of equipment sitting around the backyard.

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Olympic cross country skier Sara Renner

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Alpine skier Thomas Grandi poses in his backyard. The ski poles on the right are Sara's but we decided against moving them.

The tricky part of the shoot was photographing the pair together.

My idea was to have them together holding a ski that would double as a flag pole.The question right away was whose ski, each had a different ski sponsor. While I'm sure each would have gone with the other's ski for the shoot. I did not want to put them in that situation, thankfully in their living room, above the couch, hung a pair of vintage wooden skis. 

Perfect for what I needed, a little gaffer tape, one light on a stick, two athletes and some great mountains and I had one of my most favorite sportraits ever.

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Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi, Canada's ski couple.

-srussell@thestar.ca

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