Fitness for All with Ben Wachenje and Blink Fitness
At the end of March New Year’s Resolutions are long forgotten and left on the slag pile of expired intentions for most people. But even if the fire of resolutions has gone out, the impulse for self-improvement never dies, no matter who you are. Blink Fitness is currently going all in on a series of advertisements that show off the diversity and experiences that their members represent in a series of illustrations with Ben Wachenje. Diversity and experience is their focus, presenting a paradigm shift of what gym ads can be, and for Ben it’s an important change. “I am very proud to be a part of this campaign,” says Ben. “Any campaign that says fitness is for everyone is good as far as I’m concerned.”
We don’t have to tell you that every gym has a diverse customer base, but those customers are usually not shown in their advertising. Blink has members that are overweight, older in age, and even have physical handicaps, but Blink has put those folks front and center. And for a good reason. “Whenever the consumer isn’t properly or fairly represented in advertising campaigns it’s almost like saying we will take your money but we would like our relationship to remain private and not public,” Ben explains. “Most gym branding revolves around images of athletes in peak physical condition when in reality the people attending gyms look like the heroes in the Blink campaign, so for me Blink’s approach is brave, refreshing and honest.” Gyms typically sell aspiration and a potential, preferred future. But Blink’s message is one of acceptance and process. Fitness is a journey, and each journey is different. Blink invites us on that journey rather than trying to sell a piece of a goal that cannot be bought.
To create these images Ben started with photographs of real people that Blink had commissioned from B&A photographer Tom Corbett (who also shot this video for the same campaign, with grooming by Sylvester Castellano and styling by Luke Langsdale). Then Ben used his own aesthetic style to develop the photos into illustrations. Although this step removed the initial ideation of the some compositional details, Ben found the process to be incredibly beneficial. Sometimes a concept is developed enough that execution is as fulfilling as creation. “It isn’t always necessary to have creative license when the brief is good and well considered. Sometimes simply executing a good idea can be interesting,” Ben explains. “Since the client had already approved the photography it minimizes the amount of amends and changes that I might normally have to undertake to satisfy a brief.” This process streamlined Ben’s process to create final images that are clean, considered, and celebratory.
The campaign is ongoing so keep a look out for more!
Luke Langsdale and Tom Corbett's Man About Town
Luke Langsdale joined photographer Tom Corbett on set for "A Gentleman's Spirit," the menswear story in the holiday issue of Somerset Collection magazine.
The editorial combines images made at Keen's Steakhouse in Manhattan and a studio shoot. "The idea we kept in mind was man about town," said the stylist. "The steakhouse photos portray him as a bit risqué – perhaps more risqué than the average Somerset shopper – with a nod to the holiday season. It's a glamorization of what he might step out in. For example, in the picture of the model wearing the Burberry tiger-skin jacket, the Somerset shopper might put on the suit; however, he could throw on the tiger-skin, too, and give it a pop. He can visualize how he would look after visiting Somerset's stores." The close-ups depended on Langsdale's layering savvy while integrating the codes used on street-style blogs: "The hope was to encourage patrons to embrace putting together different fabrics and patterns, as long as it's done in a tasteful and interesting manner."
Langsdale, Corbett, and the team worked remotely with the client, located in Michigan. "It certainly underscored the ways of the modern world that we were able to shoot with [Somserset's] input while being in another part of the country," Langsdale remarked. "The art director would send through a selection of frames as Tom and I continued on, and it went smoothly. It felt like a family, everyone-pitching-in sort of job."
He enjoyed partnering with Corbett, in particular. "Tom maintained his lighting in both locations and it was spot-on," Langsdale noted. "The shadowing and strategically placed pools of light were exactly what you'd see on a wintry evening."
Grooming: Asia Geiger