This Summer I was commissioned to shoot for Strongbow to capture their sponsorship of the self-styled "toughest event on the planet", Tough Mudder.
I was asked to capture shots of successful ‘Mudder’s’ enjoying the blissful moment of crossing the line knowing that they had a cold refreshing pint of Strongbow waiting for them, to tie in with the brands ‘Earn It’ campaign.
For those of you that have never been to a Tough Mudder event, let me tell you that it is one of the funniest & worst things I have ever seen in equal measure. Over the course of two weekends we spent shooting, we watched grown men & women slowly broken down & reduced to nothing but broken teary eyed shivering & filthy shells of their former selves.
My personal favourite obstacle was the final challenge the ‘Mudders’ had to face before crossing the finish line, perfectly named ‘Electroshock Therapy’. It really was as if we were watching a constant stream of epic fails, as the damaged weary husks of what were originally men and women had to run through dangling live electric wires (whilst soaking wet) without getting shocked…not possible!
Basically every single person we watched tackle this 4 metre long gauntlet of hanging electric cabling was repeatedly zapped by 10,000 volts of electricity, which was usually so powerful it knocked them to the ground, & judging from the blood curdling screams it most certainly didn’t tickle….we bloody loved watching it!!!
I knew that it was directly after crossing the line that I wanted to capture the ‘Mudder’s’ portraits as it was in those first few seconds that they realised they had completed the challenge that really personified the key aspirational message ‘Earn It’.
We would grab them in their dazed muddy states as they crossed the line & ask them to stand for a portrait & then quickly rattle off shots on a shallow depth of field that focussed on the eyes, capturing both the intensity & relief in them. We had to be really reactive to our surroundings and the constant changing light whilst also only having seconds to capture those key moments. But to be quite honest I find working in high pressured ever changing environments the most rewarding, as you really have to trust your instincts & to put it simply in the words of my lovely Mum “not dilly dally”.
Big thanks to the brilliant team that helped out on both shoots, Geraldine, Laura, Rosa & Anna who sorted all the logistics & accreditation. Also, a special thanks to Tom Farmery who did a brill job of fighting through the crowds with the lighting & managing to keep things as clean as possible (not easy) on the first shoot, & big thanks to the off road buggy driving extraordinaire Dan Ross who did a brilliant digi job on the second shoot and made my day an easy and smooth one. Last but not least, thanks to the super talented Sophie Lawes for the retouching. You were all great :D