Delivering unparalleled high-tech designs with sophisticated details, Italian wheelchair designer Progeo is a leader in the European market. With the help of Giampaolo Allocco at Delineo Design, Progeo met and hired portrait photographer Colin Dutton when they were looking to revamp their brand identity. Since then, Colin has worked with Progeo many times over the years to create a series of concept-based, emotionally charged advertising images.
Luciano Nosella, one of the founders of Progeo, is confined to a wheelchair himself and remains very active and adventurous. Luciano was interested in presenting his products in a more dynamic way, to showcase the quality and energy of the chairs and break the mold of who a wheelchair user is. Colin was up to the challenge and began working on several unique projects that stretched the boundaries of what viewers expect to see in wheelchair advertisements. His first shoot with Progeo was an extreme sports theme, with models showing Progeo chairs paragliding, popping wheelies, and hitting a racing circuit. He was excited to shake things up and break boundaries, making images that were deliberately provocative and encouraging viewers not to limit themselves to the confines of stereotypes.
My first project with Progeo had me jumping off a mountain on a hang-glider while photographing another guy in a wheelchair flying next to me. It was interesting to say the least. The main challenge there was simply overcoming my fear of heights to get the shots!
Colin’s next assignment moved him to Berlin to produce a series of urban themed images for Progeo’s catalog. With freezing cold and pouring rain, it was a challenge to get the shots the client was looking for. Colin shot solo with only a few speedlites and used the dark environment to shoot some beautiful images showcasing the chairs.
The folks at Progeo loved Colin’s pictures, and Colin got some additional work from brands such as Technogym. When Progeo approached him for their third campaign, they wanted more pictures that reflected their company’s progressive and design-focused approach to wheelchair making.
It was kind of breaking the mold in terms of the image associated with this type of product. Wheelchair users, like everyone, can be cool, active and aspirational so why shouldn’t the products they buy reflect that?
Colin teamed up with producer/art director/stylist Laura Pozzi, to create a fashion shoot. After conceiving the initial concept, Colin shot the images over two days using a private apartment in Conegliano, Italy, and an abandoned factory in the nearby hills.
Colin was able to work out the technical challenges associated with photographing wheelchairs in the first couple of campaigns he made for Progeo, so by this shoot, the kinks had been ironed out. He worked to present the models as individuals with their own style and flair, and to highlight how the design of the chair corresponded with the model’s overall aesthetic.
I wanted to work with the idea that being in a wheelchair doesn’t stop you from expressing your identity.
The resulting images seem to subvert viewer’s expectations of how wheelchair users present themselves. The lighting and particularities of each picture also give the project a cinematic quality.
Colin has received a lot of positive feedback on the project, both from Progeo and others. The folks at the sports equipment manufacturer, Technogym saw Colin’s first Progeo shoot and hired Colin him on the spot. Tripod manufacturer, Manfrotto has since approached him to become one of their product ambassadors.
Colin looks forward to continuing this collaboration with Progeo and expanding his fashion work.
See more of Colin at colinduttonphotography.com