This is one of those stories that can inspire creative young people & shows how a well known global brand respects talent irrespective of age.
The thing with this story is that happened very close to home. Well, in my home to be precise. I was commissioned to do some promotional photo assignments with The North Face in Hong Kong. For these assignments, I was working with Vlad Ixel who is a TNF athlete based in Australia. I was buzzing about these shoots as I was given the space to develop some ideas that were ‘out of the box’ and broke away from the typical trail settings that usually go hand in hand with ultra runner athletes. One of the locations we settled on was in the heart of Mong Kok, which is one of the most densely populated places on the planet & provides the kind of urban setting I wanted to capture and visually sums up a setting that most Hong Kongers are familiar with.
For this shoot, I asked my 14 year old daughter Anya to come along and help with watching traffic while I was lying in the middle of Argyle Road shooting away with Vlad plus to keep an eye on my equipment while I was distracted. I also asked her to take any ‘behind the scenes’ shots & if she wanted, to have a go at capturing Vlad in action. I gave her a Fujifilm X100T for this while I worked away with my trusty 5D mk2. I have taken Anya on a few commercial shoots as an ‘apprentice’ as she is keen to develop the craft of photography & has started to show a flair for capturing images.
The shoot went well & I was pleased with what I captured. I returned home with Anya, went though the images shot from the day & picked out the top shots & prepared them for The North Face to consider. A few days passed and I looked through the images that Anya had taken on the Fujifilm. There were some catching behind the scenes shots but there was one image that caught my eye and that was of Vlad running through a back alley. A tricky shot in low light that Anya had shot in manual. I posted it on Instagram as part of a collage of behind the scenes shots from the shoot and the feedback confirmed what I thought about the image.
Shortly after posting the collage on Instagram, I received an email from The North Face Regional Manager telling me they had seen the image of Vlad posted on Instagram & liked it a lot. They had no idea that Anya has taken this shot and thought it was one of mine. And so here is how the email exchange went:
And so, that’s the story of how an image taken by a 14 year old ended up being selected by The North Face for a promotional campaign. I wish I had taken a photo of Anya’s reaction when I told her the good news.