Behind The Scenes With Scott Markewitz
We’ve all seen the shots. They grace the glossy covers of magazines, the home pages of web sites and the covers of brochures and trail maps. The composition is perfect. The colors are mind blowing. And the athletic feats captured, well, they’re just silly good. If you’re thinking that those images just happen – check that nonsense at the door. A photo shoot is a production. The planning and execution that goes into getting the shots are just as, if not more important, than the act of snapping the photo.
I recently got the chance to tag along on a Canyons Bike Park photo shoot with Scott Markewitz, a man who has achieved legend status in the action sports photography world. From Powder Magazine to Bike Magazine and seemingly every other publication in between, Markewitz is known for nailing the shot. I shadowed Scott and tried my best to soak up as much information as possible so that you can get a real feel for what it’s like behind the scenes of a resort photo shoot. Here’s my take on how it all went down . . .
Contrary to popular belief, the real action starts weeks before the actual day of shooting. Preliminary phone conversations gave way to Scott dropping by the Canyons Marketing offices for a little face-to-face time. Photo shoot objectives were discussed, previous photos were viewed, trail maps were poured over in the name of location scouting, and the long term forecast was consulted.
With a week or so to go, Scott threw a leg over his bike and hit the Bike Park for some ol’ fashioned location scouting. He rode the trails, looking at the angles and features, making mental notes on where to shoot and where not to shoot. Then we checked the weather again . . .
With the shoot a few days out, mountain operations was pulled into the equation to nail down logistics. Early ups on Red Pine Gondola required staffing and scheduling changes. Vehicles and drivers had to be scheduled for on mountain transportation. Lift tickets had to be set up for photographers and athletes. And the weather was checked again. . .
The day of the shoot dawned bright and early with everyone meeting at the base of Red Pine Gondola before 8 am. The last few drops of coffee were swallowed. Bikes and camera gear were given a final once over. The features and runs to be shot were discussed. And a plan of attack was put in place.
With the plan as the guide, both athletes and Scott fell into a routine:
1. The feature was scoped out by Scott and the riders.
2. The riders gave feedback on the best way to hit the feature.
3. Scott decides on angle taking into account lighting and other awesome photography factors.
4. The riders line up.
5. Scott says go via radio.
6. The first rider hits the feature with as much style as possible.
7. Scott provides feedback on timing, style, etc.
8. The rider walks back up.
9. The next rider goes.
With the last shot taken roughly 12 hours after the group first met, the shoot was finally a wrap. While some folks scattered, others hung around and raised a celebratory glass of cold beer to a shoot well done.
By now you’re probably wondering how the shots turned out, right? Well, here’s a couple of gems. You be the judge.