So this is a pretty cool story. Right after I finished shooting Patrick & Boris’s photos a few weeks before they headed off to Kona, HI for the Ironman World Championship. I received a quick note from my friend and local swim coach, Tim Floyd about setting up a shoot with yet another professional triathlete in town training before heading off to Kona himself. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as up to speed on British triathletes outside of the Brownlee brothers (obviously). So, when he said “Harry Wiltshire” I wasn’t entirely sure who he was talking about so the first thing I did was google him. Needless to say, it wasn’t the prettiest picture and I am definitely not going to dwell on it, but he had an issue a few years ago with getting into an altercation in the water during an event that got him banned for 6 months.
With that in mind, I really had no idea what to expect and I’m glad that I decided beforehand to go into it with no prejudices or pre-conceived notions in mind. I’m so glad I did too, because Harry is – in complete honesty – one of my favorite athletes I’ve had the pleasure of working with so far. He was extremely easy going, humble, outgoing, and he even had some fun with Cullen while he was over at the house for some portraits. Actually, Cullen was at every single one of his photoshoots cheering (read screaming) him on! A true professional on and off the course, Harry is one of those guys that I would love to grab a beer with if he had more time and he wasn’t training for the most important race of the year.
But, back to the stuff y’all probably care a little more about. As soon as I spoke with Harry a bit, I decided to basically shoot the same sets of photos I had just done based on timing, my current work load, and the locations we have to work with here in The Woodlands. We did shoot a little backwards though, starting this time with the cycling and running shots and then scheduling some time for some portraits at the house later on.
Starting with the biking shots, I have to give another huge shoutout to Bryan Alsdorf for being an awesome sport and coming out to lend us his time and his truck again for this shoot. We went back out to the tree farm that I’ve used a few times before to give a little more openness to the shoot compared to Woodlane, where I had shot Patrick and Boris. Because of traffic (we hadn’t planned on there being a home high school football game in Magnolia!) we got out to the site a little later than normal and were fighting time from the get-go. To Harry’s credit, he kicked it in gear quick and did exactly what I needed him to do. We were able to get two different looks with two different helmets in just 3 runs! It was insane how efficient we were able to get on that set and because of it, we were able to get two different run looks as well.
With the run we were really starting to push the sunlight we had left. I was having to open up a bit more than I would have liked and was struggling to nail some shots in real focus, so I backed off and allowed myself a little easier tracking on Harry as a subject. We grabbed some shots of Harry running in his race kit before kicking it over to his Skechers Performance run kit at the end of the night. I loved the shots we were able to grab with this look because the sun crested the horizon for the final few moments and I was able to catch the sky looking ablaze behind Harry in his black and neon kit. So, in about 40 minutes we were able to crush the shoot and get some stuff in the camera that I could toy with in photoshop when I got home. Tired, overloaded, and dealing with an extremely cranky newborn, we headed back to the house and planned on getting together in the next few days for the portrait shoot.
The tone for the portrait shoot was completely different and that’s one of the things I love about getting to work with a home studio or just in a studio environment in general from time to time. While I love the adrenaline rush of the shoots like I just described, sometimes a little slower pace and being able to see the images on a large screen make you feel at ease in your own skin and able to get some great stuff on a slightly less strict timeframe. That was the case with this and it was during this time that I was finally able to get to know Harry a bit more and completely tear down intrigue that I had created for myself by googling him to learn more. It blows me away what a media perception can do to a person and Harry is so much more than what I had read in a few quick articles. He is humble and you can tell that he continues in the sport of triathlon for the pure love of doing it (Seriously, the dude is a bonafide Lawyer! He could definitely be doing something else!). He’s not necessarily in it for money or for any kind of recognition, but because he loves to further the sport, teach others how to train, and push himself in the process to grow more as an athlete and a person. It was awesome to get to know him more and learn more about an athlete that, two weeks beforehand, I didn’t know anything about at all. It’s moments like this one that make me love what I do as a photographer and the doors that I get to walk through because of my passion for the craft.
As a final note, a huge congrats to Harry on an exceptional performance in Kona. It was awesome getting to watch the event live and hearing the announcers talking Frodino and Kienle the entire swim to have Harry come out of the water first! If you were watching you would have thought it was out of nowhere, but Harry was up at the front the entire time and killed it on the swim. A true competitor and a huge congrats again to him. I can’t wait to see what the future hold and hope that our paths cross again so I can finally buy him that beer and talk more about triathlon, life, and whatever else sounds good at the time.