Portland, Maine-based photographer and filmmaker Ian MacLellan has been a fan of Janji from the jump. Years ago, when Ian was just starting to break into the sports and fitness photography world, he reached out to Janji to get some outfits he could photograph to build his portfolio.
Janji is an activewear brand that creates two collections a year, inspired by different geographic areas; the company works with local designers from said area to create their latest line. A few years after loaning Ian some gear for his personal use, Janji helped Ian select outfits and commissioned him to photograph an actual content trip.
The first trip was to Uganda, and I have since traveled to Bolivia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and California with them.
Janji gives two percent of every purchase to support clean water projects in the places that inspire their collections, supporting local designers and their communities as a whole. Ian especially loves meeting these artists and being able to share their work with the world.
Meeting the local artists that Janji partners with is always one of my favorite aspects of the job. Raxenne [above] worked on the Philippines collection and has a design style and color palette that feels so far removed from the New England aesthetic that surrounds my daily life.
This trip to the Philippines where he met Raxenne was Ian’s most recent trip outside of the U.S. for Janji and took place in early 2020. He usually visits the locations to shoot for two to three weeks in order to get enough content for Janji for the next six months. The images are used on social media as well as in emails, ad campaigns, and physical stores. They also tend to include quite a bit of videography; Ian has been in charge of the filmmaking on three of the five trips.
I learned so much about how and when to shoot video. I learned to use a small audio recorder to gather as many sounds of the athletes’ footfalls and breathing, as well as ambient sounds in different scenarios.
This film was for the “nightmrkt” collection on their Cambodia trip, which was filmed with a group of six runners exploring the night market in Siem Reap.
Ian loves working with runners, especially groups of them. It might have something to do with the fact that Ian is a runner himself and has built his own running community back in Massachusetts. On their last trip to the Philippines, Jess Barnard, who helped plan the excursion, said she had found some runners for a track photo shoot.
I expected two or three runners but found almost a dozen local models who were all working on getting into the national team. That was a wonderful surprise because we had an entire team of athletes to work with, which brings a totally different energy and level of fun.
Energy and the ability to have fun despite the long days and packed schedule is essential for these trips. Ian is the epitome of energetic and spends most of his time running along with the talent or backward in front of them, slogging up and down mountains, and dodging the hustlers and bustlers in the city.
We try to photograph at sunrise, then travel or relax during the middle of the day and shoot again at sunset, which can be very grueling for the whole team. I feel like the photographer can set the energy for each shoot, and I like to bring the most positive energy possible.
It’s not just the long days they have to overcome — Ian is constantly traveling during these trips. There’s very little, if any, time to scout locations, so they have to stay flexible. They also try to take the time to immerse themselves in the local culture.
We always drink so much good coffee and find amazing food spots, which brings me so much joy on a long shoot day. Janji’s creative director (and frequent talent), Conner Callahan, came to the company from the food world, so he does his research on where to find the best meals possible.
Ian discovers more each trip, especially about remaining flexible and upbeat even when disaster strikes. When in a strange place and tasked with getting enough footage to last half a year, that can happen at any moment. But maybe that’s one of the things that makes these shoots so invigorating.
After every trip, I leave newly inspired.
See more of Ian’s work at portfolio.maclellanimages.com.
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