Lululemon Ambassador | Balazs Csoke

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Back in the Fall, we were approached by the local Lululemon Athletica store here in The Woodlands to do a series of photos for one of their ambassadors – Balazs Csoke. Obviously Balazs is no stranger to our portfolio or blog, so we were thrilled to get to work with him again and under different circumstances. The brief consisted of shooting Balazs in the new Lulu style of gritty, real, naturally lit, and unretouched. Not only that, but we were going to shoot Balazs in all 3 disciplines in one day, in The Woodlands, and in the same style. Definitely not my usual style or circumstances, but I like a good challenge and working with great people. So, with that in mind, here are the three shoots and a quick BTS video from the shoot. I’ve shared some of my favorites from the photos edited more in my own style. The final images chosen for the store are at the end of the post (sorry for only an iPhone photo!). I would definitely suggest stopping by the store the next time you’re at The Woodlands Marketstreet and checking out the awesome clothes and extremely upbeat and professional people that work there.

Now that we had what the client wanted, it was time to talk to the athlete since his input was vital in how the final images would look and how he wanted to be portrayed as an ambassador. His input was that he wanted to show motion, look like he was moving, and to be portrayed as an Ironman. Simple, right? So now I have to capture motion (i.e. have the background blurred) and keep Balazs in focus while shooting with only natural light and at a shallow depth of field per Lululemon. The shoot was all of a sudden a whole lot more interesting and dynamic that I could have ever expected from a technical standpoint. The key was to be moving at the same speed as Balazs, keep shooting, find good light, and get some great images…

The Swim Shot:

The last time we shot Balazs swimming was during practice and in a pool, for this shoot we wanted to change things up and shoot him in his element – open water. At the end of November, this was no minimal task and the water was freezing! After doing a little bit of scouting, we decided to shoot at the Ironman Texas swim location in Lake Woodlands with Balazs getting out of the water in an action shot. This was the first shoot of the day and we did it right at dawn with the sun out behind Balazs at the boat ramp. Water temp was freezing so I put a wetsuit a few sizes too small on backwards so at least my legs were warm and we jumped in and shot. After using all natural light for a few runs (using an EWA Marine housing for my Canon 5dmkII) we realized that we were fighting lens fog (water was really cold, air was warmer), focusing with water in the way, backlight, and Balazs moving and getting out of the water. I talked the ladies of Lulu into letting me use just a little bit of fill light to stop the action and it made all of the difference in the world. It was an interesting balance to keep the photo looking all natural, but in the end I think we really pulled it off and got some great results for all parties involved. With that said, I can’t wait to get back in the water and try this stuff again with some really cool lighting! Here are some of my favorite edits that weren’t used but I enjoyed editing!

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Crushing the Big Gear:

The next two shoots were going to happen on the same day at dusk to keep the light relatively the same, so we ended up shooting them in series – bike first, run second. Fortunately, this was the easiest shot for us to get since we knew the set up, knew the area, and had gotten the shot before with lights. What we hadn’t done before was shoot it without lights, so controlling with just shutter speed was a new way of looking at the situation and one I had a ton of fun with. With Sam behind the wheel and Kelly and Lauren (the ladies of Lulu) holding my legs to keep me in the truck, I was able to slow the shutter speed down, get low out of the bed of the truck, and grab these shots of the Hungarian wonder crushing the Big Gear at Woodlane! (Sorry for missing the BTS video here, but if you want to see the same thing with lights added, check out this video for more detail)

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Almost done, it’s just a marathon!

We’re at the home stretch here, just the run. When you’re doing an Ironman, all you can think when you’re on the bike is, “Let me off this bike,” and then you get to the run and you only have one sport left… but its a freakin’ marathon!!! That’s kind of how it felt to get to this shoot. Last one, but how do you capture motion while somebody is running, make it personal, keep them in focus, but don’t make them look like they just jumped in the air and you captured them between strides… the answer is rollerblades. Laugh all you want, it worked perfect and I can’t wait to use them again. For all of the years and houses I’ve hauled these things around to and from, they finally came in handy. All I had to do was not fall over backwards while I skated backwards in front of Balazs while he was busting out 6 minute miles. It was real, it was natural, I could talk to Balazs, change my viewpoint easily from in front, to low, to eye level, to from the side… the list is endless. It was a blast and the images worked perfect. I was able to get the movement we wanted without the static feeling of a fast shutter speed. Like I said, I can’t wait to play around with the blades more in the future.

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With all of the shoots wrapped, here is the final presentation in the store via iPhone shot and a quick little BTS goody for those of you interested to watch. Enjoy and check back soon to see my wrap up of Balazs in Kona, our other Lulu shoot, and tons more coming to the blog soon!

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