It is wonderful when a client reaches out about a project that is just a perfect fit. This April, lululemon contacted me to shoot new images for their flagship Mall of America location. The photos are integral to the recently renovated space, with 25 large images hanging throughout the store.
As so much shopping moves online, there is a need to really create a special retail experience when people enter a store. Rather than using the same photos for in-store displays across the country, lululemon wanted to have images that featured local athlete ambassadors, and visually looked like the Twin Cities. Athlete ambassadors are individuals who lululemon defines as “inspirational leaders in your community.”
Working with four local ambassadors, I scheduled 2-3 hr shoots with each athlete. Almost all of the locations were picked to be authentic to the athletes, the roads and trails they actually run on, and the gyms where they workout and teach. I encouraged the athletes to go through a workout as they would normally do, allowing me to capture the real work and effort of each athlete. I used exclusively natural light on the shoot, letting the lighting help guide our shots. Finding angles where the athletes looked their best in the light, I also used the architecture of the spaces to complement the movement of the athletes.
The photos will hang in the store year-round, so I was asked to shoot images that would be generally season-less. However, on the morning of the first shoot day, we woke up to 6 inches of fresh snow covering the Twin Cities. That created an opportunity to look for some unique angles and locations. Shifting our first location 1/2 mi down the road, I had Pat Costello of Crossfit Mendota running under a freeway overpass, and across a pedestrian bridge where the snow was out of site. These shots looked amazing in black and white, with great geometric lines.
When it came time for the final image selection, lululemon kept me closely involved, working with the local store, and art directors from the Vancouver office, to pick the photos. It was great to work with them, to not just select the images that I liked, but that I also felt reflected the spirit of each of the ambassadors. The careful process paid off, as all the ambassadors gushed over the photos when seeing them for the first time at the store on grand re-opening day.