Behind the scenes with photographer Michel Leroy

Behind the scenes with advertising photographer Michel Leroy shooting on location in Brooklyn for the fitness studio Body & Pole. Epic was the concept. With fifty plus instructors and athletes we had to elevate the campaign to an epic level.

Fifty people in one image is too many, it means everyone is really small in the frame. With this many A list talent we didn’t want to loose anybody. The solution, we composed three large groups that featured each athlete prominently. A studio shoot would have lacked the intensity and context these dancers bring to a set so we scouted factories and fitness studios for a week until we finally found a location big enough to fit three unique groups of 15-18 dancers. The perfect location also needed enough space for the monumental lighting necessary for a group this size and we found it at The Muse. The real complication with shooting dancers is the moves they do, that really highlight their talents, can’t be held for more than a few seconds, if at all. Furthermore, we needed to shoot on a single day in one location while everyone was in New York for an event. So we knew it would take hours to set up each of the three sets with just a few minutes to shoot.

Everything had to work flawlessly if we were going to succeed with limited time and only chance to get it right. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, through solid concepts and creative collaboration everything is possible. Through experience what is possible becomes repeatable and that’s what my clients expect, that is what I expect and the athletes at Body and Pole delivered.

Those who aren’t in the industry may think it’s all Photoshop. It’s not! These are real athletes performing at the highest level on location and captured in camera. Sure Photoshop is used but it’s used to bring out each persons natural best, not fundamentally alter the image or create something that wasn’t there. There is a curious and amazing thing that happens when a team takes the stage and the stakes are high; they sync and act as one. I’ve seen it again and again and marvel at the phenomenon every time.

We had great location support from the entire crew with a special shout out to Erin Lark Gray, a set designer and problem solver without equal. Thanks also to the team at Phase One, Broncolor and Root Brooklyn for all the support with this project.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III with L* lenses
Digital Capture: PhaseOne and Tether Tools
Lighting: Broncolor
Grip and Tripod: Manfrotto
Rentals: Root Brooklyn
Set Design: Erin Lark Gray
Glam Squad: Ivey Haber, Jake Aebly and Rakhil Shamailova
Photographer: Michel Leroy

Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes
Michel Leroy Photographer behind the scenes with Body and Pole Athletes