Nashville photographer Adair Rutledge recently moved to Seattle and was looking for a way to learn about the local creative community. She thought a high production value test shoot would be a great way to start gathering local resources to build a great team in her new home. As a casual runner herself, Adair noticed that she doesn’t always relate to activewear advertising, where campaigns sometimes feature unrealistic models. Adair wanted to craft a story around a group of strong, dedicated runners to show the different physical and emotional aspects of training. She planned to explore the camaraderie and fun of training, as well as intense, quieter moments.
Adair wanted to push herself in a new direction with styling by using a fresh, new color palette. When one of Adair’s photo assistants recommended stylist, Gretchen Bell, Adair was sold. Gretchen was previously a producer before she moved into styling, and was a great asset in putting all the pieces together. Gretchen decided to use garments from Alo, Under Armour, Nike, and other various brands.
Adair’s work typically incorporates punchy, saturated color throughout the whole picture. To mix things up for this shoot, Adair scouted locations with more subdued tones to pair with a sophisticated wardrobe. She accomplished this by incorporating her fun colored running outfits with neutral backgrounds like white, gray and rusty tones. Adair and Gretchen found models for this project through Sports and Lifestyle Unlimited Agency (SLU), an agency in Portland OR, that specializes in athletic talent.
All of our models were either professional athletes or at least ran track in collage, so that brought a lot of authenticity to the project. Running 30 consecutive sets of stadium stairs was no biggie for them!
Adair did a lot of location scouting during pre-production. She created an ambitious shot list for a one day shoot, so having locations in close proximity to each other was important. She also found great running routes where she could get wider shots without crowds.
In the Pacific Northwest, the weather is always a wild card. The day of the shoot was supposed to be warm and sunny; however, it turned out drizzly and cold. Adair spent part of the morning under shelter but was still able to capture good material by staging the lighting with her equipment.
I was able to fake good weather if I needed it for the shot, and a lot of my images were actually artificially lit. As for the goosebumps… I had to spend a little extra time retouching.
Adair has already incorporated some of this project into her portfolio, and so far people have responded well. With a great team working in sync, Adair was able to run the shoot smoothly which made the day a lot of fun. In the future, Adair is excited to bridge the gap between her documentary projects and her more commercial lifestyle work.
See more from Adair at adairrutledge.com.