Before I left Australia one of my friends told me that we have some of the best Fencers in the world in Switzerland and was nagging me that I should absolutely include this in my Warriors Series. I kind of “forgot” about it until I was in Zurich having a pretty spontaneous vino with my friend who lives in NYC and another friend who lives in India. We were talking and my friend who lives in India said she knew a pretty good Fencer from Basel and she would make the connection. Due to lost phones and things the real connection between Beni and me only happened about 1.5 weeks before my departure and I thought that would be way to short term. But somehow it was meant to be and we were able to squeeze in me going to watch a training session in Basel and having time to do the main shoot! And the “pretty good fencer” turned out to be Beni Steffen who is part of the Swiss National Team. Him and his teammates have been absolutely killing it in the past years and will have my full support for whatever comes next. Once again I felt very honored to be photographing such an accomplished athlete for my Warriors Series.
I´ve always been a big fan of fairy tales and medieval tales of kings and knights fighting dragons, anything mystical really. Hence the choice of shooting in a ruin which I thought also in line with the history of fencing. But I probably visualized the whole mystical part a bit too vividly because instead of the sun/clouds that were promised by the weather forecast we were greeted by a very misty, foggy, rainy forest… It was all very Lord of the Rings´ish, loved it…! So after dragging all the gear up to the first ruin my biggest challenge was to find the right angles. We were shooting in an open tower and didn`t have much room to shoot due to the rain. The fog made the use of the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger very difficult as the light was diffused in all directions. And Beni being quite tall it was hard to position him well in those small alcoves. But at some point some light broke through the fog, I ditched the studio lights and went with natural light and Beni climbed into the biggest alcove. We then packed up and did another quick series in the second ruin. There was no fog there and I could light him the way I had pictured it. During this shoot I had two things confirmed; I shoot best when it is just me and the athlete even though a set of hands would have been handy here and there. But the focus is much better this way. And, baby oil is moisturizing, smells good and is absolutely essential for any shirt less shoot!
The shots in the ruin were done using the 70-200mm 2.8 L IS II USM Canon lens and due to the natural lighting and the fog they have a very dreamy almost remote quality that I like a lot. The ones in the forest were done using the 20mm f2.8 Canon EF Lens and the Elinchrom Quadra Ranger lights and are much more dynamic and present. I am yet to pick the hero shot from this very fun and relaxed shoot….