When asked if he would photograph Olympic champion, Michael Phelps, for a tech company, Steve Craft jumped at the opportunity that resulted in a photograph selected for the 2021 Photography Annual Graphis competition. The tech company Talkspace provides affordable online mental health counseling for those that have busy schedules or just can’t visit an office, which is almost everyone these days.
I got a call from the producer, and he mentioned that it was between two other photographers and me. This time it worked out in my favor.
For those who may not know, having a shoot with Michael Phelps is a big deal. Not only is he the most decorated Olympian of all time, but he also has an incredibly inspiring story about his struggles with mental health. Michael is the epitome of physical strength, but Steve had to look a little deeper and showcase the mental strength in Michael’s vulnerability for this shoot.
With Steve’s history of creating authentic portraits of people in their environments, this seasoned photographer’s style matched the TalkSpace ask to a tee. The setting for this shoot was the gorgeous landscape of Phoenix, Arizona, and Steve took full advantage.
We shot at a house in Paradise Valley (a suburb of Phoenix) for two days.
On top of that, Michael is great in front of a camera.
Michael was very natural on camera. I think after years and years of being in the spotlight, you get accustomed to it, and he was very accommodating for what I needed to get done.
Steve has the innate ability to connect with his subjects and help them shine. This was also not the first time that Steve had worked with Michael, and they were able to pick up right where they left off.
I worked with him a few years ago when his signature line of swimwear was released, and we chatted about the craziness surrounding that for a little while.
Speaking of craziness, this shoot had so many moving parts. It involved videography, lighting, photography, and taking into account everyone’s health on set.
Everyone on set had to be tested before starting work. Safety first! And I scored a couple of N95 masks. I wasn’t allowed to have an assistant in order to keep the crew size to a minimum, so I pretty much used the lighting setup that the video crew used.
This means that Steve was under a time crunch to capture his stills in between motion setups.
Good thing both Steve and Michael are built for speed.
See more of Steve’s work on his website.