While attending a Women’s Parkour Movement event in Denver, Los Angeles-based photographer Anya Chibis received a call from her agent Matt Coogan. He told her the New York advertising agency Pereira O’Dell and their client Timberland were considering her to photograph their new SensorFlex line of shoes. Anya had been shooting parkour athletes for years for her personal project on the sport, so this campaign was her dream job.
The folks at Timberland wanted Anya to shoot breakdancers and parkour athletes to showcase the flexibility of their new soles. The idea was to show that the shoe combines the style of a boot, with the comfort of a sneaker. Since Anya was at a parkour event when she learned about the job, she wasted no time.
Even though the client had not yet confirmed me as the photographer, some of the world’s best freerunners were at this event, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to start casting. I approached some of the freeruners and photographed them showing off their best moves. I met and photographed a French traceur (another name for a freerunner) named Charles Poujade. I was thrilled when he was subsequently choosen by the client for one of the roles!
Timberland wanted to shoot a video campaign along with the stills on separate back-to-back days, so there needed to be a certain level of continuity between them. While Anya scouted locations herself, the production team ended up going with LightBox studios in the Bronx for its vast warehouse-like space. Anya thought it was a spectacular shoot location, adding a level of grit and urban flavor to the production.
Once the shoot began, Anya enjoyed the challenge of photographing the parkour athletes in action, while still making sure the outer side of the shoe with the logo was visible. It took some experimentation to find the moves that looked fresh and unique, but still demonstrated the shoe’s flexibility. Fortunately, the athletes were true professionals and had no trouble repeating the stunts until Anya had what she needed.
Art Director Juan Leguizmon from Pereira O’Dell and Bevan Bloemendaal, vice-president of creative services for Timberland, were both extremely hands-on with the shoot. Anya appreciated their involvement because, in her experience, there’s often a buffer between the photographer and client when working with an advertising agency.
I really liked his approach because we were on a tight schedule and it was more efficient to work this way. We got along fantastically!
Early spring of this year, Anya was pleased to see the campaign she worked so hard on go live in New York City. It was all over the city – on buses, in the subway, on billboards.
A lot of people texted me saying they have seen it all over the city and loved it!
More recently, Anya received an inquiry from Virtue Worldwide; a creative agency that handles the European account of Timberland, to shoot another campaign in Europe this summer. It’s too early to tell if it will materialize, but it certainly makes her happy that they are interested in potentially working together again.
See more of Anya at anyachibis.com