Monday, June 5th, 2017

Mountain Equipment – Portrait Series

During 2016 LWimages were commissioned by Mountain Equipment to take a portfolio of portraits of some of the adventurers, climbers and artists they work with. We thought it would be interesting to let you into some of the thoughts processes behind the project from Lukasz.
What attracted you to Mountain Equipment's brief? As a photographer, I get excited by an opportunity to create a 'round' body of work rather than just to shoot single pictures. Shooting 8-10 portraits within a 6 week time window – it's a big assignment, expensive too. It takes a certain vision from the client's side to commission an assignment of this kind and a lot of trust. I like a good challenge too and meeting interesting people is one of the perks of my job, some of them I was good friends with already. I was attracted to the the scale of the brief, its boldness and the creative freedom I was given.
What do you think is the key to a successful portrait? And how did you go about achieving that in this series? A succesful portrait is not about the camera or lens choice, it's all about
what's happening on either side of it, it's all about the connection between the photographer and the subject. How you achieve this personal connection is a matter of personality, I try not to overcomplicate things and focus my attention on the subject and be relaxed. In my book, a good portrait shows personality and goes beyond what your subject might think of themselves. For most of us it's unnatural to be photographed… and if you can find a way of making people comfortable you will succeed in taking better portraits. I guess, what helps with my style of photography is that I like to keep things authentic and there was also a strong emphasis on authenticity in the brief. People are obviously a lot more relaxed when they can just be themselves.
Portraiture is a unique branch of image making – what kind of challenges did you have in shooting the images this time around? Time is the number one challenge in portraiture photography. We live busy lives these days… and when you have travelled 500 miles to photograph someone and you only have an hour of their time, that's a challenge. Having a plan, being respectful of your subject and mindful of how your original ideas and gear choice fits with reality is important. Time flies so quickly and before you know it you're on your way back – the
challenge is to be able to keep your focus in a situation that feels a lot like a time warp. What kind of kit did you use for the shoots and why? Pretty much every shoot was different… for Ben Saunders we have brought with us three cases of gear since I was not too sure about the location, in contrast for Andy Parkin I had only a camera and shot the portrait with only the available light. Ideally, I like to shoot with a single diffused light source.

Which of the images are you most pleased with and why? I really like the shot of Nick Bullock, having been friends with Nick for a few years now capturing something new somehow doesn't get easier and yet this one image shows his quirkiness/playfulness and creative personality. I also like the portrait of Ben Saunders, photographing a polar explorer mid-Summer, indoors and creating an authentic feel was kind of tricky.
Every polar exploration trip starts with a dream followed by an awful lot of planning and preparation. The idea behind the shot of Ben was to create that mood of a long/dark winter evening spent dreaming and thinking of another adventure.
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