Do you want to know how I made it as professional Freerunning athlete? Talent, ambition and, you bet, luck. But there are a few easy rules I follow when I work on photo productions as well. If you want to become an interesting movement artist or learn how to shoot pictures professionally, this article is for YOU.
Here are my key rules for rocking photo shootings!
#1 - DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIDEO & PHOTO SHOOTINGS
First of all: there is a HUGE difference between doing photo and video shootings. While a videoclip is way more interesting when you combine different moves and create a changing dynamic line, a picture just captures one specific moment. In a picture there is no „before“ or „after“ - I mean, sure, an interesting picture can tell the story from A to B as well. But in the end the moment the photographer pulls the trigger is the only one that counts.
This is my rule #1: Think in moments, not in moves! A picture captures only one moment.
Try to make that moment perfect! Sometimes when I try out new photo-moves the landing is really crappy - but if the right moment was captured the landing doesn’t really matter. (Don’t risk your health though!)
#2 - THE BIGGEST MOVE DOESN’T MAKE THE BEST SHOT
As mentioned in an earlier blog post about working with Jason Paul for NIKON in 2014, the biggest move does not make the best picture. I would say there are moves that work perfectly fine in front of the lense and others that just don’t. Especially when it comes to bigger moves like double fulltwists or double flips - forget them for shootings.
An example: I really like twisting. I love the dynamic feeling of it, the power build up and the release in the end. But from my experience I can tell in a fulltwist or a cork (as long as you don’t pull some breathtaking airform in it) you won’t be able to create a stunning picture moment: in almost every position you are crooked or bent in a strange looking way. Take a step back and go with a nicely stretched out Gainer or even just a Backflip!
A good movement picture works (most of the time) by drawing dynamic lines - which you have in perfectly executed basics most of the time.
So rule #2 is: Stick with the basics - the biggest move doesn’t make the best picture.
#3 - WORK WITH your PHOTOGRAPHER
Whenever I work with a photographer and they ask me about good Parkour locations I just answer the following: „The most important thing is that you have a background and framing that fulfills your vision. I can adapt my moves to whichever surrounding, whether it’s a wall, flat ground, a bar, or whatever.“
I totally mean that. If the background or the location is just not interesting at all it doesn’t matter how cool the spot is from the athlete perspective - the picture will probably suck, even though your airform looks hot.
Work with your photographer. His creative vision of the final picture goes first. All you have to do is being able to adapt your skills to your surrounding - which is the basic Parkour philosophy anyways ;-)
Here is my rule #3: Work with your photographer, follow his creative vision.
#4 - BUILD A REPERTOIRE
After 5 years of shooting experience I acquired a feeling for which moves look good on a picture and which do not. For sure I have a repertoire of moves that do the job. This helps me a lot especially for paid projects - even when there is time pressure I know exactly which moves I can pull that will leave a good impression and make photographer and client happy. To get an impression of which moves are in my repertoire, you can check out my instagram: @loukewilson
My rule #4 is: Have a picture-move-repertoire.
You don't need many moves in your repertoire if you're good - vary them over and over again and make them look different ;-) But there is still the risk of getting stuck, doing the same stuff over and over again. To prevent this, keep going and read rule #5.
Even though all the pictures above show just a backflip, every single one looks different. Vary your moves!
#5 - THINK OUT OF THE BOX - BE CREATIVE
The nice thing about action pictures is: you don’t see moves you see forms.
For sure these forms can be related to classic moves - but they don’t necessarily have to. Even the most simple motions can create a photo that the viewer has to watch twice before understanding it. Which is the reaction you want to provoke in general, by the way ;-)
So if the photographer is up for it, try to break it down to the basics of dynamic movement and induce an interesting effect by doing strange stuff! In my opinion those shootings are the most fun.
Rule #5 is: Try to think out of the box. Break it down to the basics to create something new from there.
So, this is it! Now you know my 5 basic rules for working professionally on photo shootings. I hope my thoughts help you with your own free or paid projects :-)
Now go out there and shoot!