Recently, Sharp for Men‘s fashion editor, Luke Langsdale, contacted U.K.-based commercial action and lifestyle photographer Ross Woodhall about two very unique and fairly simple shoots, that eventually turned into a single breathtaking project. One was an outdoor assignment, highlighting gear and outdoor clothing while the other was an indoor shoot for evening wear. Then there was a change of plans, and the two shoots melded into one unbelievable shoot on top of a glacier.
Ross is used to working on mountains for his adventure/sports photography, but usually it’s people in snow pants, skiing, or snowboarding. This time, he would be photographing men in tuxedos and wingtips at the edge of a snow-capped cliff. To make the assignment even more majestic, Ross suggested to Sharp that they shoot at the Swiss skiing village of Saas Fee. He knew the village was easily accessible for the clients and that its mountains would provide a breathtakingly beautiful backdrop.
Once the Sharp team was excited about Saas Fee, Ross put them in touch with the Swiss Tourist Board who was “brilliant and took care of almost everything.” Once casting was completed in London, they all flew to the land of fine chocolate and finer watches for a black-tie adventure. Of their days on the glacier, Ross says,
Shooting in the mountains is great, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. But you have to be aware of your surroundings, especially in Saas Fee as there are crevasses literally everywhere up there. And our days there were very hectic. Day one was a 6:30am start, on the glacier until 8:00pm.
Day two was a later start at 7:30 am, then the equipment and clothing had to be transported up another gondola, dressing room and equipment set up—which on both days where in lift station rooms organized by the tourist board—and then plenty of hiking.
The biggest challenge for Ross and the crew was moving around on the windy glacier with all the equipment—especially the lighting gear (think an umbrella in a hurricane, but the umbrella is 5-feet wide). Their models also had to traverse the uneven rock faces wearing patent leather dress shoes, often teetering on the edge of a 500-ft cliff, with little to no traction to speak of.
Luckily, everyone made it out alive… And Ross was able to capture some stunning and unique photographs. The client loved the images and has used them in both their November and December issues.