VISA – WINTER GAMES - 3 of 3
The last stop on my rollercoaster ride of chasing summer in winter would end in Detroit. Seemingly the most unlikely spot for winter athleticism and more commonly associated with American Car manufacturing, I’d never been. I was excited and hoping for a possible Eminem or Kid Rock Encounter!
The Visa Crew was here to shoot Russian Hockey player Pavel Datsyuk, who on the flipside plays for the Detroit Red Wings, The other sport was Ice Dancing with Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The latter would end up being one of the most difficult sports I have even shot and the one we would start with. Having two subjects - moving off axis, changing rhythm, squatting low then lifting high would prove to be more complex than anticipated. At a certain point while watching Charlie and Meryl rehears, Kat one of the creatives on the set asked how do I know when to shoot while that much stuff is going on?
Ever since I was a kid, if I saw something once I could shoot it - I could figure out the decisive moments. While the lighting was being rigged I spent a lot of time watching their routine. The tough part was while Charlie would be leading in a straight line or slight curve, Meryl would be spinning off axis so trying to match their facial expressions with good composition was like a homeless person winning the lottery. A one in a million chance. Having the 1DX Canon made things easier. It had one of the fastest autofocus I’ve used but finding the right framing and angle was a challenge.
As we got started there was Monte, Mike the cinematographer on skates, Jon the third photographer on skates and I all twirling around Meryl and Charlie. It was like a pack of wolves surrounding a couple of cute dancing deer… on a slipnslide.
Quite possibly the most peculiar instance of finesse in motion…
I was really surprised no on fell on the ice.
The second portion of the shoot would be spent at the Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings. It was a humbling experience walking in the players entrance, standing in the middle of the ice, imagining thousands of people cheering or the opposite - mad hockey fans yelling at you.
We started out pretty basic but then Monte suggested “Hey Stan can you get up in the rafters and shoot down to get a different perspective?” which was pretty much music to my ears.
The sketchier the job, the more I like it.
Being hundreds of feet over the ice, all by myself, trying to navigate steel beams, not drop anything on the players or the crew and get a good shot was too much fun.
Next up were Charlie and Meryl teaching Pavel some figure skating moves and then Charlie and Pavel going thru some hockey drills. Say what you want about male figure skater and preconceived notion but Charlie White knows how to skate. I think he even shocked Pavel a bit with his hockey skills.
Then we shot Pavel doing high speed attacks at the goal. At one point he skated over to Monte and I and said in broken Russian “lay still.. Don’t move when I skate towards you.”
We kind of looked at each other and were like, “uh ok..” The thought of taking a hockey puck to the grill didn’t really appeal to me but I figured follow the expert’s advice.
Nothing like laying on the ice and having Pavel skating at breakneck speeds directly toward me while sending slap shots over my head!
All in all Detroit delivered quite well. I shot some of my favorite images of the campaign, was only momentarily cold and found a new respect for ice dancing, hockey and the motor city.