Southern California-based sports and lifestyle photographer Erik Isakson has collaborated with many athletic brands and products over his twenty-plus-year career in the industry. As an avid sports enthusiast and outdoor adventurer, he naturally gravitated toward sports lifestyle imagery as a photographer.
During a recent project for sports nutrition supplement brand Dymatize, Erik demonstrated how proper nutrition can positively impact the health and lifestyle of both casual and serious athletes alike.
I’ve worked with countless pro athletes doing some sort of action, so this was a very natural fit to have me shoot this for Dymatize. Although all these images were carefully choreographed and staged, we wanted to create dynamic and authentic images to portray the athletes and product in the best light possible.
After discovering Erik through Wonderful Machine, Barkley Ad agency’s in-house producer Matt Haritan contacted him directly about the photoshoot. During the pre-production phase, Erik took an active role in coordinating his producer and crew, casting talent, and scouting locations.
We worked with various athletes such as Kionte Story who is a former Marine who lost a leg in battle in Afghanistan. It was wonderful meeting him and learning of his story, how he’s triumphed and overcome the odds.
The first location was the suspension bridge in downtown San Diego, along with a park and two homes nearby, where the team spent the first day photographing home interiors with the athletes and products.
The next two days involved moving around to various locations throughout the day. The second shoot was in tandem with a video crew at MOA Fitness in San Diego. Erik and his team used wireless transmission to allow the client to see the images and provide feedback.
The energy on both shoots was awesome. Everyone really got along great and I made a point of hiring my local San Diego crew who had all worked together for years. We had the client there from San Francisco and folks from Barkley who were there from Pittsburgh and Kansas City.
On the second shoot when I was working alongside the video team, we had multiple conversations about how we were going to make things run smoothly with switching back and forth between photo and video. We maximized every second and everyone was super happy with the results!
As for the challenges Erik faced on set, he had to ensure he was prepared with all of the necessary equipment and improvise according to weather conditions. Despite envisioning and planning in advance, there are always on-the-fly adjustments to be made when you show up on set.
On the most recent shoot with the video crew, although I was ready with gear and crew to light every scenario myself, we quickly realized that in some instances we really needed to save time by using existing lighting and adjust it for optimal photo results.
I learned that being as light and mobile as possible and simplifying where you can is key. Although I shoot tethered a lot, in many instances shooting wirelessly using CamRanger to iPads was a great solution, especially when you have a lot of bodies on set and don’t want to be tripping over cords. The best results are when you have your primary plan of attack and then have several solid backup options, cause rarely does everything go exactly as planned.
It’s always a thrill for Erik to be contracted for these types of jobs, where he can exercise his skills, work with an amazing client and crew, and produce great results. It is also inspiring for him to meet extraordinary athletes and to share a part of their stories.
It was amazing working with these awesome athletes who could nail what I had envisioned on the first take. And the client was super supportive and engaged every step of the way. There were certainly moments where specific products and poses needed to be shot. And many other instances where we were able to be spontaneous and get creative with the light or a certain athletic movement the athlete could do that I might not have been aware of. It really was a pure joy working together like this.
See more of Erik’s work on his website.
Producer: Agatha Borrelli
Assistant Producer: Ilana Diamond
Makeup: Amy McNally
Photo Assistants: Rob Stephen, Lowell Tindell
Digital Tech: Justin Galloway and Jimmy Galt
Wardrobe/Prop stylist: Kylie Sigurdson
Creative Director at Barkley: Geoff Hoskinson,
Associate Creative Director at Barkley: Alexa Ryzinski
Barkley Producers: Matt Haritan, Victoria Gambriel, Laura Johnson
Dymatize Brand Manager: Teal Axline
Athletes: Dani Speegle, Carmen Del Mastro, Don Tran, Aicha El Mahmoudi, Kionte Story