Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn - Sports Illustrated


The Winter Olympics in Whistler have just drawn to a close

Last June I was fortunate enough to be commissioned by 'Sports Illustrated' to shoot a feature on World Champion Ski Racer Lindsey Vonn during her training programme in Salzburg, Austria for a feature in their Winter Olympic Edition

The most successful American Woman Skier in history

The brief was to shoot her while she was training and some portraits too

This was a really great gig for me and needless to say I wanted it to go WELL

In a situation like this the most important factor has nothing to do with equipment but it is the human factor, just how co operative is the subject going to be in the middle of an arduous, focused training programme?

Well, the moment I met Lindsey and her trainers I knew all was going to be just fine.

Lindsey is a really kind, warm, friendly and open person and she made the job in hand easy by being super co operative even though she was training a zillion hours a day

The first part of the shoot was following her and her trainers (from the comfort of a chase car!) on a long and tough (for you and I!) cycle ride through the Alps. It went on for hours....

I was getting some good shots during this but in the back of my mind I was focused on the location for a top class portrait

This process started the week before though as I had asked the crew at Red Bull to suggest some suitable locations and to send some shots of the locations to me, which they did

On a shoot like this you need all the help you can get and local knowledge is invaluable

And they suggested the peak of a nearby mountain

I say nearby but it involved a bit of a mission

I had to check it out, set my lights up and then wait with fingers crossed as it involved a dash by Lindsey to make the very last cable car of the day to the top of the mountain....which was also the very last cable car DOWN the mountain leaving just 30 mins to get the shot!

So I pre lit the shot using passing tourists

Ask nicely and tell them that they are being a stand in for a World Champion skier and you would be surprised how many agree! After all we all want to be part of something don't we?

I lit both the leaping shot and the alpine portrait pic with my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra

On an assignment like this when I'm working alone with no assistant and having to carry all of the gear myself it is a superb little light, packing a very respectable punch

When travelling light I use one of my favourite light stands

The Manfrotto 001b (It seems to have been superseded or renamed the 5001 or but it looks to be much the same)

It is one of the most affordable light stands made by Manfrotto and it is so versatile.

It folds down to 19 inches long which means it fits diagonally inside my carry on baggage

And though I'm unsure of its official load bearing spec I have put some quite silly loads on it which I'm sure would make Manfrotto wince. The stand seems to be 'keener' to flex than fall over. Unscientific on my part but it works for me. I have this light stand with me on my huge productions too, it has the knack of being the tool for the job on more occasions than I can recall

I used a Chimera Medium soft box (which you can see on my pre lighting shots)

Regular readers of the blog will know just how important this softbox is to the look and feel of my work

I shot the whole job on my Canon 5d Mk2 which I Love, Love, Love.

It delivers so much in such a small package, saving my poor old back

The Portraits on my 24/105mm Canon 'L' Series and the leaping shot on my Canon 'L' series 70/200 F4

Th light weight zooms perfect for my travels

Lindsey fought off a nasty injury she sustained prior to the Winter Olympics to win a Gold medal in the Women's downhill, becoming the first American woman to do so, she also won a bronze in the Women's Super G.

Richly deserved