Framing Ian Poulter
by Maria Luci
In 1992, Ben Van Hook took a trip to New York City. There, he scheduled a meeting with Sports Illustrated, undeterred by the fact that his book was almost completely personal work—none of which was sports related. Nevertheless, the SI photo editors loved what they saw, and gave Ben an assignment to photograph soccer legend Pele that very day. As it turned out, the assignment would be the first of many—the beginning of a strong and creative relationship with the magazine. Since then, Ben has worked with SI on numerous shoots, always continuing to inject his own personal vision into each photograph.
Recently, with the US Open around the corner, SI’s golf picture editor Miriam Marseu called up Ben about a cover assignment. She asked if he’d like to shoot stylish PGA golfer, Ian Poulter. What was unique about this particular assignment was that Miriam also wanted his help conceptualizing the cover’s idea. Ben quickly got to brainstorming, and before too long he had it. Ben explains,
As I thought about Ian, it occurred to me that his golf game is really “framed” by his sense of style (he has his own clothing line). Why not photograph him in an actual frame? It just seemed like a natural, organic thing to shoot him through an ornate, antique frame.
Miriam loved the pitch and gave Ben the go-ahead to frame Ian. After some antique frames and $10,000 of wardrobe were procured for the shoot by stylist Christine Sonnenberg, the shoot began bright and early on a beautiful summer morning at Ian’s home near Orlando.
Ben knew that he wanted the photos to have a “painterly feel through the frame.” To achieve this look, together the team decided to shoot in the backyard. Ben says that Ian was “such a cool guy, and very down to earth. In the afternoon he ordered lunch for everyone and had it delivered. We all sat around and ate and shared stories. I love shoots like this.”
The SI editors loved the photos and used them in the May issue of Sports Illustrated Golf+.
View more of Ben’s work at benvanhook.com.