CLARESSA SHIELDS | BEHIND THE SCENES

July 31, 2012

Earlier this month I received a call from the art director at The Huffington Post who was looking to do a cover shoot of Olympian Claressa Shields, a young boxer out of Michigan looking to make history by being the first female boxer to bring home a gold medal.

After a little back and forth, I was essentially told I had free reign to do what I wanted as long as they had a variety of vertical/horizontal options to choose from in the end. Easy enough. However, due to her rigorous training schedule, I would only have one hour with her at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. State-of-the-art for training but not so much for creating portraits. It’s nothing but strong fluorescent lighting throughout the entire building. Not exactly a dream scenario. Oh and the place is littered with massive skylights.

The crew and I arrive to the training center and are taken to what we are told is the only free space available in the building that day; a hallway directly outside of the main doors with a nice big skylight directly overhead. When I say hallway I’m not referring to a dark empty area on a side of the building that nobody is using. I’m talking about a place through which dozens of people need to walk in order to get in or out of the general training areas.

There are times when everything seems to be working against you and this was one of them. Whether that’s before, during, or after, it’s going to happen. Rarely does a shoot go exactly the way you want it to. Fortunately it would turn out that everyone at the training center that day was incredibly cool and respectful of what we were doing. Amidst all of the chaos, the moment Claressa arrived she brought along a great energy and excitement about life. About halfway into our shoot I convinced the trainers to let me get in the ring for a few minutes. I figured at that point there’s nothing to lose. The shoot went off without a hitch and we made our cover shot in no time. 

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For a look at how the shoot went down check out this behind-the-scenes video shot by Bryce Drobny.