Earlier this year, Financial Times Editor, Michael Crabtree contacted Boston-based photographer Doug Levy about shooting a story on Dartmouth College’s Next Step program. Next Step is a subsidized certificate program that prepares veterans, athletes and others who want to transition from the field to the workplace. Michael found Doug on Wonderful Machine’s Find Photographers page and really enjoyed his portraiture work. Doug was thrilled for the opportunity to photograph for Financial Times and cover such a great story with compelling subjects.
One-time hurdle World Champion and Olympic Silver medalist, Lashinda Demus.
Taking place in Hanover, New Hampshire at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Doug’s goal was to create a group photo of six uber-successful Olympians including noted hurdler and featured subject, Lashinda Demus. According to Doug:
This group set a new bar for me. They were by-far the fittest folks I’ve ever photographed.
Moreover, Michael wanted Doug to provide visuals of the former Olympians taking part in the Next Step program and blend it cohesively with the context of the magazine story.
Once Doug accepted the job, he knew one of the main challenges was going to be the cooperation of the weather. The shoot was in February, and he was told the story would run in May, so he needed to capture all the subjects without giving away the time of the year. Because the featured subject was a hurdler, Doug wanted to get images of Lashinda on the track outside, but he needed to avoid a few snow banks left over from previous plowing. Perhaps more concerning was the fact that the shoot day’s forecast called for snow.
Why not use the indoor track, you might ask? Doug couldn’t because the track team was holding practice the day of the shoot. There was a lot riding on the weather and luckily it held up until the end of the shoot. Once Doug finished taking his last outdoor image, it began to dump snow.
Being a Sol-Cal native, Lashinda was not accustomed to the harsh New England winter. Not only was it freezing for her and everyone involved, but she also had to do the shoot without winter attire. But Lashida was a true professional and didn’t complain one bit. Understandably, she was relieved to learn Doug would be taking the group photo indoors.
For the group shot, Doug had already scouted a location inside of Tuck earlier in the day and was able to setup the lighting before the other Olympians arrived. Doug only had the group for about 15 minutes, so he had to make the time count. Luckily for him, his subjects couldn’t have been more accommodating. The only hard part was getting them to take a serious shot because everyone was having fun.
I like to keep things pretty light on-set, so part of the challenge was getting everyone to sit still for some serious shots…they kept cracking jokes and laughing.
Here’s how the group image appeared in the May issue of FT
The group photo was undeniably Doug’s favorite part of the project. Not only because of how the image turned out but because he enjoyed the process and spending time with the entire group. He couldn’t ask for a more helpful, funny and energetic group of people. Is there anything Olympians can’t do? They represent our country in the Olympics for a reason. They’re the best of the best.
Group shots are always a challenge, both in planning and execution and I was really pleased with the result of this one.
The reaction to the images has been very positive. Doug even shared the group photo on his portfolio, blog, and Instagram and has received nothing but compliments.
See more of Doug’s photography at douglaslevy.com.