Sam Robinson Finds a Balance with Mizuno's Heritage
At first glance, the thing that jumps out about Sam Robinson’s latest campaign with Japanese athletic giant Mizuno, is the sheer power of the energy. Athletes are caught not only in mid stride or leaping through the air, they're ripped like lightning out of powerful moves. Time hasn’t just slowed down, it’s been completely frozen and that captured dynamism radiates out of the imagery. “It was very influenced by Mizuno's new range and new color palate,” explains Sam. “And also by the fact that Mizuno is not casual wear, it is for real athletes and real runners use it. Therefore, starting positions, technique and all of that was quite important. It needed to feel natural and real, and fresh and authentic. But with a level of perfection and competitiveness.” These are real people achieving real greatness, so Sam had to balance that truth into the images.
To achieve this kind of crisp imagery in the midst of explosive athleticism requires very real technical demands that Sam directed around. Set ups and lighting had to be carefully chosen, but his style comes from capturing honest moments. So he found a way to do both. “We would plan it to a certain degree and then let what happens on the day lead that,” says Sam. “Obviously the beauty of a lot of the running is you can discover it as you go because you’re literally running from street to street.” Sam let the runners run around the city, following their own paths, and his team ran alongside them until they found the moment they were looking for. As a process, it represented the confluence of technical expertise with creative agility.
When he was composing those frames, he looked to the brand’s history to make sure each image hit the tenor of Mizuno’s heritage. “They do everything from baseball to golf to football to soccer to running,” Sam explains. “But the brand has always, from the logo all the way through most of its designs, had Japanese iconography on it. Even when we were searching locations we were looking for hints of that. Strong perpendicular lines, or very graphic shapes to use as the backdrop.” That’s precisely why we see the architecture and colors that Sam has placed the runners within. He knew this fell right in line with Mizuno’s identity. It’s all about balance.
Experience Every Moment with Sam Robinson
Polar’s technology allows sportsmen and women to keep track of how they’re doing in their workouts. By offering an easily checkable count of miles run, monitoring heart rate, and the important messages off the users’ phones, Polar makes it possible to stay focused on the work out despite the distractions that could get in the way. These devices make getting to the core of the work out far more easy, which makes the process not only more efficient but also more joyful. When interferences fall away it’s much easier to connect with the love that keeps a runner coming back to running. And that core passion is something that Sam Robinson knows about.
For Sam, who is a runner himself, he experiences that same jolt of clarity every time he shoots a project. Whether it’s for Polar’s latest campaign, or any other project, it’s the love of getting behind the camera that can keep him going even through extreme circumstances. For the Polar campaign, they shot for days in and around Williamsburg and the whole shoot was super active. Where you see these runners running, Sam is running right along side them and it’s the love for the craft that kept him going. “The adrenaline of it is, I guess, what keeps you going,” Sam says. “It’s exciting, and this was a little bit less controlled than a lot of the other stuff I shoot because we’re sort of discovering as we go. We obviously cover a lot more ground when we’re running and moving so much. A part of the inspiration is that it’s obviously not choreographed or planned, that’s inspiring." They ran and followed where the energy took them.
Shooting in Williamsburg was a small blessing because it’s an area Sam was already very familiar with. Having lived there years ago, he understands the landscape and layout, but the area has changed which added a whole new element to the shoot. “When I first moved to New York years ago, Williamsburg was my home,” says Sam. “I lived right on McCarren Park for a couple of years. Obviously, I’ve seen it change and evolve. It’s a great place to shoot. It’s a different canvas every day. It’s constantly changing, there’s new street art, there’s new stuff around. It’s a cool place to be.” Around every corner was a new feature, changed building, or art work in progress, and because of the nature of the city there was no way to know if it would be there the next day. So Sam and his team took advantage of every moment, never taking a single shot for granted.
By using every moment and every site to its fullest potential, the photographs take on that essence and it enriches the entire campaign. “There’s an element of chance and spontaneity to it that benefits it. It feels a little bit lucky, sometimes. It’s slightly less controlled so it feels spontaneous,” Sam says. Polar’s products allow their users to get closer to their workouts and really take in the experience. It allows us to pay attention to every moment a little closer, because we may never get to experience them again.
Sam Robinson's British Invasion
The tradition of Savile Row dates back to the mid 1800s, and represents a mere three blocks of Central London. Suit makers have been honing their craft for more than a century on this small street, each shop besting one another (or at least trying to) as each season and round of trends comes up for its time. It is an incredibly British tradition with no true parallel, but is renowned the world over and the basis of inspiration for countless designers. Included in that list are the minds behind Saville Row (notice the additional L), a Chilean brand built with the same hunger for quality and distinction. To highlight their brand’s provenance and inspiration they tapped British photographer Sam Robinson whose style lined up precisely with what they wanted for their presentation.
Sam is known for lifestyle shoots that are composed but graceful. They are accessible and relaxed, which may not seem like the immediate choice for a brand that makes suits and dresses. But it was exactly what they needed to bring the brand into the strata of the contemporary professional. “The idea was to try to make that very high-end world and a bit more approachable,” Sam explains. “We have this thing in England about making things quite pompous and unattainable. We wanted to make the brand feel attainable even though it has an essence and quality and strength and history to it.” By straddling his style and the essence of the brand these very high-end looks end up being personable and comprehensible, making high fashion wearable every day.
For Sam, it was a particularly pleasurable challenge because he got to express parts of his hometown culture that normally get downplayed. When Saville Row came to him they requested a very British feel. Even though the brand isn’t based in the UK, the tradition and techniques come from that study and they wanted to pay homage to their history. There is so much more to British culture than a collection of royals and jokes about tea, and Sam was honored to explore it. “Something that was really nice about this project was being able to be British and actually be quite British,” says Sam. “It’s quite often something that we hold back from. There was something about being able to be British without flaunting it, without it being royal or regal or too obnoxious, but just be proud.” Tartan fabrics, the rich architecture of Wrotham Park, along with the employ of a vintage Morgan Car made for an atmosphere that’s undeniably British, fully embracing Sam’s culture, and completely relatable. It’s patriotic, proud, and effortlessly beautiful.
Sam Robinson Finds Everything He Needs at Lands' End
At the end of August, Sam Robinson and his crew were woken up in the dark of night. Dawn was approaching and they had somewhere to be. They all piled into a van and drove through the hills of British Columbia, motoring their way half way up Whistler Mountain. It was cold, and dark, and they all unloaded their gear to be carried the rest of the way. They stumbled up those thousands of vertical feet, exhausted, a little disoriented, and doubtful. What seemed like a good decision in the light of day was less clear as they looked up their steep path weighed down by camera equipment.
The entire crew summited in time, setting up the shot they worked for. The sun crept up over the horizon and they got the shot, and then everyone’s energy turned on a dime. “It was totally worth it,” Sam explains. “It was one of those incredible moments where everyone was up there and the sun came up and we’re all just sitting there a little bit exhausted already. First thing in the morning, a bit beaten, but the sun comes up and everyone goes, ‘Ah yeah. That’s why were here. This all makes sense.’” They had hiked the mountain to shoot Lands' End winter collection, and they brought themselves to a literal land’s end. During the winter, Whistler Mountain is one of the busiest attractions, but in early fall it is a complete wilderness. They were effectively alone. That only added to the magic. “There was a moment of us sort of looking around, and for lack of a better word, it really shuts you up when you’re suddenly up there,” Sam says. “The effort to get there suddenly becomes all worthwhile. You get another level of energy.” That energy carried them all the way through the rest of the shoot, from bobbing in and out of clouds in helicopters to find the perfect locations, to continuing to cart hundreds of pounds of equipment all over the face of the mountain and onto a glacier. Their fate had been sealed: this was going to be a good time. “It’s like a legal high,” Sam says. “It drives you. It keeps you going.”
That was important. They had to sustain. Since it was August, it wasn’t as snowy as they had hoped. Of course August is warmer than the dead of winter, but there was still less snow than Whistler normally has at that time. So they scoured the mountain. “We had to kind of chase the snow,” Sam says. “It was a beautiful day, and we got in the helicopter to look for snow.” They eventually found everything they needed, like that energy from the sunrise, in the wilderness around them.
Sam Robinson Wonâ€™t Keep a Good Secret
Some secrets are too good to keep. When Sam Robinson discovered BoomCase, the company that constructs custom stereos in vintage luggage, it was not something he wanted to keep to himself. He thought it was too good. “I bought a BoomCase maybe two years ago and I use it on set. People always comment on it, the incredible sound, and it looks unique,” he said. So he did something about it. He got in touch with BoomCase and said, “Let’s do a shoot.”
So much of Sam’s photographic work is authentically organic. He adjusts his tone around the product or people that he’s shooting while always remaining true to his style. That’s why he responds so deeply to BoomCase’s process and method. “The thing I like the most was that it was unique. Each one is unique. Each case has its story before they come to Simo [Dominic Odbert], who makes them. Then he does his thing and he makes them all sound fantastic,” Sam says. “Each one is individual. I bought mine and they’ll never make another one like that. I like the idea that it was the only one in existence.” Their special process means each piece is a one of a kind tailored to the needs of the user. For Sam, he wanted to use his case on shoots, so his battery is super powerful. It will play for 24 hours on full sound.
When he finally got to shoot for BoomCase, they let Sam do pretty much whatever he wanted. According to Sam, they gave him a wide berth telling him, “We don’t really mind what you do. Just do it how you do it.” So that’s what he did. They were in Miami, so Sam and his team traveled all over to prove a point. “We went to the beach, the city, under the highway, skating. Just trying to involve a little bit of action and movement to show that it’s portable,” Sam explains. “You can pretty much take your party anywhere.”
Taking the party anywhere is a big deal, but for same it’s really about the object. The creativity. How special each one is, and the personality they have while still being good pieces of machinery. “I like BoomCase because I like that they’re the best quality, the best creativity, and the best in what they are producing.” Lucky for us, he couldn’t keep it to himself.
Sam Robinson gets personal with Dell
The race to the top in Silicon Valley is all about innovation. The top of the heap is dictated by what companies and brands are on the cutting edge of technology, creating faster, smaller, and easier to understand products that will make users excited. But none of that has any value unless it fits into the user’s life. It’s worthless if it doesn’t seamlessly integrate and allow them to enjoy that life more.
Sam Robinson has been shooting campaigns for Dell for half a decade now, and when they team up together to communicate what Dell is all about, he says, “We’ve always focused on the people.” After all, it doesn’t matter how pretty your product is if it’s not enriching the user’s experience. Sam is all about showing what that experience can do for someone who uses these products and he does that by presenting the moments between engaging with the devices.
“Dell has a huge product range, so a lot of the stuff that we shoot has to relate to lots of different products,” Sam explains about the campaign that covers many life moments. “[The products] relate to different parts of life, so I’m trying to capture real moments in life, and real emotions that could be used for different types of products.” Whether you need to quickly find a route to the pottery studio using your tablet, print a photo of your friends from the beach, or celebrate the fruits of studying for years on your trusty laptop: Dell has you covered. Sam and Dell are showing that technology can make these moments possible, so the rest of the time is just for living. Positive technology enriches a life, it doesn’t get in the way.
It takes real work and consideration to execute a campaign that feels as effortless as this one. “Light is such a key part of everything I shoot,” says Sam. Sam and Dell have shot all over the world to appeal to all sorts of different markets, but they wanted this one to be uniquely North American. So they shot in Los Angeles and Houston to get the right feeling out of the light. That same rich golden light that inspired an entire film industry.
To keep everything fun, Sam likes to foster a relaxed and easy atmosphere on set, so the subjects can be free to live authentically in front of the lens. After all, the goal is to communicate how seamlessly the variety of products fit into any lifestyle. “We have a real freedom to create a nice loose set and play. We’re not dictated by trying to sell one particular thing,” explains Sam. Instead, they’re working together to visually describe the identity of a brand that covers so many aspects of life. “It allows us to have the freedom to be looser.”
Sam Robinson's Latest Work: Nike, Rockefeller Center, Lufthansa, & More
Sam Robinson's latest projects include Nike's "We Own The Night" series, his inaugural commission for the sportswear giant. Set in his "second home, Barcelona, my passion for the city and brand resulted in a brilliant shoot that was fun for the whole team," he said. Lufthansa, another household name, turned to Robinson to lens its global advertisements. "Considered one of the most prestigious campaigns in Germany, it has been exciting to be part of their new identity from my first Lufthansa shoot back in 2012," he remarked.
Robinson, B&A stylist Don Sumada, and B&A hairstylist and makeup artist Gregg Hubbard partnered on a recent campaign for Rockefeller Center. "Working with them was an incredible experience from start to finish," said Miranda Langan, senior director at Tishman Speyer. "Not only are the three at the top of the game creatively, they are serious professionals who get the job – and get the job done." Robinson described the images as "designed to talk to New Yorkers about locations traditionally aimed at tourists." Sumada and Hubbard added they always love participating in an all-B&A crew.
Robinson was also the photographer behind British retailer New Look's "new look." He recalled: "They approached me to work alongside their in-house creative team and the incredible designers at & Smith to [contribute] to the rebrand of the fashion store." He helmed shoots in Cape Town, London and Scotland, featuring a trio of different collections and creating a new style for the High-Street chain.
Both Little Bird Clothing by Jools Oliver and The Fableists, makers of sustainable garments for children, asked Robinson to apply his expert eye to kidswear. His one-off collaboration with Little Bird has evolved into four shoots a year – "and a superb family effort from all parties." For The Fableists, he noted, "heading ... with a band of rebellious kids to take over a skate park perhaps isn't everyone's idea of fun," but the completed images come with Robinson's own guarantee that "all stylish kids across the globe will soon be wearing these clothes."
Sam Robinson Takes New Look in a New Direction
Sam Robinson recently shot a re-branding campaign for New Look fashion shops. The UK-based global retailer launched an updated logo and brand personality to coincide with the release of their summer season; Sam Robinson was brought in the photograph the entire thing. His images can be seen in a slew of magazines, in all New Look stores and on their website. New Look was so please with the way the campaign turned out that Sam’s been signed to also shoot the autumn and winter collections.
Sam Robinson Shoots Campaign for El Palacio de Hierro
Sam Robinson shoots a new campaign for Mexican luxury retail chain El Palacio de Hierro. Sam worked with agency Teran / TBWA Mexico to direct four TV spots as well as several ATL images.
The narrative for the campaign was 'Applause' in celebration of the arrival of January sales. The brief was to capture warm, authentic and honest emotions in the characters. The client and agency chose Sam for the project because of his style and energy, which was decidedly built around "flowing hair and sun flare." Sam took the lead in concepting the campaign by drawing up treatments for each of the four locations selected.
The campaign is currently running on Mexican TV and nationally across Mexico in outdoor media.
Client - Palacio de Hierro
Commissioned by - Teran / TBWA Mexico
Director & Photographer - Sam Robinson
Photography Assistant - Ross Brind
Creative Directors - Nacho Borja & Jeovanna Villasenor
Editor - Benji Gerstein
Music - Grandscale Music
Post Production - The Shop Production, London
Stills Retoucher - Shervorn Monaghan
Motion Grade - Smoke & Mirrors, London
Production Company -Garage Films
Executive Producer - Sete Ledo de Pablo
Production Director - Betty Marquez
Lead Stylist - Monica Hernadez
Lead Make Up - Ossiel Ramos
Lead Props - Gerardo Maldonado>
Sam Robinson for Lufthansa
Sam Robinson photographs the new global campaign for Lufthansa. The airline is transforming itself from a focus on business travel to serving everyone. The campaign introduces their new look and their new slogan "Nonstop You" which features a greater importance on the customer. Robinson was commissioned by Kolle Rebbe to create the imagery for the campaign.
Robinson shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa. The shoot took four days with still and motion filming. The concept was to capture honest moments of real life with a little bit of excitement added. Regular people are captured in everyday scenes-at the beach, kissing, hanging out-looking happy and lively. The worldwide campaign can be seen all over Europe, Asia, and the United States.
See more of Sam Robinson's photography here.
Agency: Kolle Rebbe
Production: Steel Productions
Photographer: Sam Robinson >