Mike Tittel Describes How He Photographed a Subaru-Trek Campaign

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Mike Tittel Describes How He Photographed a Subaru-Trek Campaign

Mike Tittel is an adventure sports photographer from Utah with an impressive resume of client projects and adventures. Last year Mike traveled to Wisconsin to meet personally with agency creatives and the result was Mikes first assignment: a location assignment photographing the Subaru Trek Mountain Bicycle Team.
The project came about quickly and was on a tight time frame, required several assistants, and travel to Colorado. Mike shares some of the challenges of handling a high end assignment so quickly.

Q: So, you have been marketing to this client for some time and it finally paid off with this nice project. How much time did you have to plan and what pre-production requirements were there?

This assignment came about rather quickly so we had very little time for planning and pre-production. Luckily for us, Trek had a very clear vision of what they were after and where they wanted to shoot. Really it was a simple as pulling my crew together (more on that later) and pulling permits for the desired locations. Thankfully the permitting office in Boulder was extremely efficient and made that process fairly painless. Since this was a team shoot pretty much all of the logistics relating to riders and bikes were handled by the team manager and mechanic. Without their help it would have been extremely difficult to pull everything together in the amount of time we had.


Q: You only had two days, so what kind of schedule were you on?

As with most shoots our days were long. We had super early call times both mornings and worked late each day to get everything accomplished.

Q: A production like this often requires a large crew to handle everything. What type of crew did you put together?

Since many of the logistics were handled by Trek’s staff, the crew wasn’t as big as one might expect. In addition to myself, I had two assistants. The second assistant also shot some footage for a behind-the-scenes video we put together on the shoot. The team manager and mechanic were also instrumental in making the shoot a huge success.

Q: You do a lot of strobe and bounce reflector lighting. What is your style and lighting strategy?

For this shoot we had a wide variety of shots we were after including action images and individual portraits of each of the riders as well as team photos both with and without a team car. Given the number of images we had to produce I really wanted to keep things as simple as possible while still being able to give Trek the dramatic lighting they were after.

For most of the action shots we used a simple two light set-up – a Profoto Beauty Dish as the key light and a the Profoto Magnum Reflector as the rim (powered by the Profoto 7b and Acute B 600R packs). I really like the punchy quality of light from the beauty dish for this type of action. For the individual portraits we used a simple 4’x6′ California Sunbouce Reflector (silver/white) as a secondary light source. It really enabled us to keep things moving quickly since reflectors always take less time than strobes.

Q: It looks like the weather was perfect, so what was the biggest challenge you had to deal with?

The biggest challenge on this shoot was just the amount of time we had with the team. Given their busy travel and training schedule we had to get everything shot in the 2 days. That meant everything had to run like a well oiled machine. Thankfully the weather cooperated and everything went as planned.

2 thoughts on “Mike Tittel Describes How He Photographed a Subaru-Trek Campaign”

  1. Some great images, I love the bts (behind the scenes) video. Really shows the reality and demands of successful commercial photography assignments; a blend of creativity, hard work, great lighting, long hours, amazing talent, inspiring locations, …did I leave anything out?

  2. You mentioned everything Ralph, except luck? LOL. Even when you have all your ducks in a row like Mike did here: from marketing to the production, a little luck helps as well. I guess I might be a little superstitious. Charlie

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