Patrik Giardino Celebrates China with Adidas
Adidas and 72andSunny Amsterdam brought photographer Patrik Giardino to China to capture the key art for the brand’s latest Chinese campaign.
Patrik was working on a shoot in Silicon Valley when he connected with a producer about the campaign. A few days later, he was on a plane to Shanghai. “The shoot is for China’s 70 year anniversary this year. China has officially been an independent country for 7 decades, starting in 1949 after WWII. Adidas created this ad campaign to celebrate the country and it's history. It’s actually a huge campaign, it’s one of the biggest media campaigns in China. It was all over the country,” explained the photographer.
The photoshoot consisted of a series of portraits of different Chinese figures. The shoot took about three days to complete, working with the busy schedules of the Chinese celebrities and athletes involved in the shoot.
“These shoots were way bigger than I had expected. The idea was to have portraits among illustrations to be mixed together. The illustrations were added to guide the identification of the women’s and men’s sports teams and categories,” explained Patrik. “All of the subjects from this campaign are very famous Chinese athletes. China is very different than America when it comes to sports, the focus is different. In America, you could shoot a massive athlete like LeBron James because everyone loves him. In China, there’s less focus on the individual, so they don’t get paid the same way. They have a different way of looking at sports, it’s much more focused on a team and the community.”
Although Patrik only had a half-hour with each athlete, after about 15 minutes he was sure he got the shot. “It was a lot of work jumping on the project last minute, but it was very rewarding. It was really nice to work with the Adidas team in China. There were fun moments. Proud moments. It was great to shoot in Shanghai.”
Patrik Giardino Teams Up With Chris Pratt For Memorial Day
In honor of Memorial Day, photographer Patrik Giardino teamed up with Chris Pratt, Jay Glazer, Jared Shaw, and the other faces behind The Murph Challenge, created in memoriam of U.S. Navy Seal LT. Michael Murphy, who created and used the routine while deployed.
“I think this is a really great project, and it’s good timing, in honor of Memorial Day,” explained Patrik. “You train to have a really good experience, it’s almost like you train for a marathon, it's the same idea. You train for the Murph Challenge. Jared Shaw is the ex-navy SEAL who brought me in to the project. He is a very good friend to Chris Pratt. Jared has a really amazing background, they train together all the time. He did 4 tours in Afghanistan and in Iraq.”
Hero Michael Murphy was featured in the book and movie, produced and starring Mark Walberg, the Lone Survivor. Michael risked his life and continued to fight to save the lives of his unit, and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. That same year, his parents and brother started the LT. Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which supports Michael’s favorite saying “Education will set you free.” The foundation is funded by donations and proceeds from the Murph Challenge, the Forged non-profit organization’s annual fundraiser.
The Murph Challenge consists of a 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and a closing mile run in either a 20 pound vest or body armour. The website reads “The ‘MURPH’ is more than just a workout, it is a tradition that helps push us, humble us, and dedicate a bit of pain and sweat to honor a man who gave everything he had”. Participants have the opportunity to register their timing and compare their achievements with the unique group of registrants who also paid tribute to the challenge. “It’s a workout. It’s hard. It’s based off of the special forces and the training they do to make it through wars and attacks,” explained Patrik.
Patrik got a firsthand look at the challenge during his latest project with The Murph Challenge, where he filmed a motion piece with Chris Pratt, Tyga, and Jay Glazer, owner of the gym where their challenge took place. “Chris Pratt is totally into this kind of training. As an actor, he’s done battle scenes and intense action shots in movies. He gets totally into it. He became really good friends with Jay Glazer, they work out a lot together. Chris Pratt is becoming the face of the challenge, so it’s definitely getting more attention now that he’s apart of it.”
“They gave me total free range to shoot whatever I want because they trusted I would make a cool video. Chris Pratt hams it up the whole time. He’s a super funny guy. The whole group did the challenge, from beginning to end. I was running with them on the street with a camera!” said Patrik. “It was a really fun project, it didn’t feel like work, we were just having fun. It’s kind of like how the Beckham shoot was, easy and not so much pressure. Photoshoots tend to take the personality/persona of whoever you shoot, so this is kind of old school documentary but it’s got a little more style to it. I’ve worked a lot of celebrity shoots, but this is so different. You have access to people who really care about something and you create something that people feel strongly about. There’s a lot of moments where they’re totally sweaty and tired and they still talk right into the camera. It’s totally authentic.”
The video Patrik filmed was meant to be debuted on Memorial Day, but because of the excitement generated by the challenge during filming, the team decided to create a teaser and post it on Chris Pratt’s Instagram. It went viral. “It wasn’t even supposed to go live yet. We were chatting in a circle, saying maybe we should just post it now, to sell more t-shirt’s before the challenge. So I shot the promo and actually went home and edited it right away. The next video is going to be about five minutes long; in that video they're going to talk about the challenge and thank all the people who do it. Everyone involved has inspirational backgrounds. There were some big names in the group too, some NFL players, some MMA fighters, actors, a bunch of different promenent people who participate in the challenge. That video is the documentary about that day and it’s going to come out Memorial Day.”
“It’s really fun to be involved in this kind of environment. It’s awesome to meet all these people, it's great to challenge everyone. I didn’t exactly do the challenge because I was shooting, but running after them the whole time was pretty equal, I was sweating up and down the street,” he explained, laughing. “It’s funny, the paparazzi was outside by the time we did the second run. There was an article in the Daily Mail about Chris Pratt getting in shape for his wedding. But we were shooting the video for the challenge. I actually made it in the Daily Mail!”
To view the MURPH Challenge video featuring Chris Pratt, click here.
Patrik Giardino Captures Brooklyn Beckham For GQ
Brooklyn Beckham is no stranger to the spotlight, but he prefers to be behind the camera. His mother, Victoria Beckham, is an international pop star and designer while his father, David Beckham is known around the globe for his careers in both soccer and modeling. When BMW first approached the aspiring photographer to serve as brand ambassador, he accepted, on the basis that he wouldn’t just model alongside the cars, but that he could shoot them as well. In their latest collaboration for BMW and GQ Magazine, photographer Patrik Giardino captured Brooklyn Beckham in a documentary style photoshoot, centered around the brand ambassador.
“The whole concept was to shoot a documentary around Brooklyn,” said Patrik. “That was the whole idea of the shoot. We wanted to keep an Instagram feel to it so it didn’t feel so much like advertising. The story for GQ was a story about him as a photographer but it was a hybrid shoot for BMW as well. The project started as a GQ shoot and then they were like, hey let’s do social media too, so that portion was added on and kept growing from there.”
In addition to his role as photographer, Patrik stepped into another role of photography mentor for Brooklyn while on set. “Brooklyn aspires to be a photographer, and he’s done some shoots already,” explained Patrik. “We were chatting about everything, going back and forth. I helped him set up the camera, and was really there through the whole process. He went totally analog for the whole shoot, no iPhone. He likes using old cameras so we had a really good time chatting about that too.”
The entire shoot took place over several days. They shot everything in Palm Springs for two days before heading to the race tracks. “It was a thermal race track outside of Palm Springs in the middle of the desert out there. BMW let him drive some of their race cars there, and they were going fast, like 150mph each - they were flying!”
Like all photo shoots, there were challenges. “The funniest part of the whole shoot is that we couldn’t drive the car. The day before the shoot, we found out as we were pulling into the hotel. It was just a prototype car, so it was not functional, and you cannot drive more than a couple of minutes. That was a little challenging because we had to think and move around with the car, and we had to throw a lot of ideas out the window,” explained Patrik. “When we went to the race track, they gave him other cars to drive around, so he went a little crazy. Donuts and crazy stuff, Brooklyn had a blast!”
John Boyega and Patrik Giardino Go Epic
It’s impossible to miss John Boyega. The breakout star of the newest Star Wars trilogy, the headline lead of the new Pacific Rim film coming out later this month – not to mention the now cult classic Attack the Block that hurled him to fame in the first place. Boyega is everywhere these days, even the newest cover of Men’s Health shot by Patrik Giardino. The incredible intensity of Boyega’s new fame means he spends a lot of time in front of the camera – both for work and for editorials like this shoot with Patrik. But he’s still having fun. “He’s done it for a little while now but he’s not tainted from tons of years or being sick of everything yet. He’s very easygoing and can get into it really fast,” Patrik says. “That makes my job so much easier. And once you start seeing those frames on the computer and you get the nod from the publicist: it’s full steam ahead.”
Patrik and Boyega didn’t spend more than a couple hours together, but they maximized every minute. Plus, Patrik timed the shoot carefully to get the sun right between the late afternoon and sunset, so each moment the light was a little different but always gorgeous. “That’s very good time to shoot that time of day, and he was totally into it. That made it a lot easier because we had beautiful light and we were also a little bit lucky that day because we had dramatic skies because of a lot of cloudiness - which doesn’t happen very often,” Patrik explains. “It made him feel like he could just run around and not worry about the light or sitting still. I let him just to be free because no matter what the light looks cool.” That freedom let Boyega improvise and have fun, ensuring that every shot felt as authentic as possible.
Boyega’s resume reads like a veritable checklist of blockbusters, and Patrik was sure to keep that feeling going. The light is a part of that, but grabbing a rooftop location in Los Angeles adds a whole new layer. “The location helps a lot,” says Patrik. “He was open to do anything and he liked that feeling of not having to sit still, he loved that, which makes him open up a lot more. It’s almost like filming like a video camera: you shoot the whole time.” The results were a ton of pictures, each one more dynamic and epic than the last.
Patrik Giardino and Gus Kenworthy Proudly Advance on The Olympics
It was only four years ago that LGBTQ+ athletes were skipping out on the Sochi Winter Olympics because of Russia’s bizarre anti-gay laws. Some out athletes didn’t want their celebrity to attract visitors or outside dollars to the country, so they opted out, while others – like skier Gus Kenworthy – used the opportunity to show the world the inhumanity of those laws. It was a tense time, that put a lot of athletes, countries, and committees in difficult positions. But now, on the eve of the PyeongChang Olympics, it’s a different situation. Patrik Giardino just caught up with Gus Kenworthy to shoot a campaign for Head & Shoulders, but what started out as a hair care product commercial turned into so much more. “He was super nice, he was so easy to work with and very open and happy,” Patrik says about working and collaborating with Kenworthy. “He wanted to do everything, to make the shoot different.” That creative dynamic meant they were able to do a lot more than glamour shots of great hair.
With the Olympics around the corner, and Procter & Gamble (Head & Shoulders’ parent company) a sponsor of the games, Kenworthy and Patrik knew that a lot of eyes were going to land on the photographs and ad, so they took on the task knowing the stakes. “There was a little more pressure because a lot more people are going to scrutinize the shots, it’s not like just another athlete going up to promote some product,” Patrik explains. Kenworthy’s status as an out athlete means that he’s a hero to more than just other skiers, he represents the future of competition, where every athlete can compete as themselves with nothing hidden away. Patrik wanted to bring that into the shoot. “We had a focus on something else, so it means a lot more than just going up there and shooting someone for the PR or the commercial,” he says.
For Kenworthy to be able to wear official uniforms and Olympic insignias, each image was going to face approval from the Olympic committee, and amazingly they approved everything. Even the images with Kenworthy posing with the Rainbow Flag, a flag that celebrates diversity and is seen as the herald of the gay community. “Luckily the Olympic Committee approved everything... It went all the way up to the top,” Patrik says. “He’s in the official Olympic uniform, and he’s allowed to represent the gay flag and everything we wanted to do, so I think in that sense it was amazing… It’s way more personal than just shooting another athlete, it feels like so much more.” The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and as images from the shoot continue to be released as the games approach, the campaign becomes more than a story of great hair: it’s the story of a more inclusive future where everyone has the opportunity compete as their true selves.
Patrik Giardino Jumps In with Nike Swim
Patrik Giardino comes from a long line of rescue divers, so when he was a kid he always thought he would end up in that career. But life had a different plan for him. He picked up a camera along the way and started shooting, but always wanted to see if he could combine his original love of the water with his new love of photography. When he started, underwater photography was unruly and expensive so he didn’t get to do it very often, until a big call came about a decade ago. “One day Nike Swim called me, 10 years ago or something, to see if I could do some work for them and I did one job and since then I’ve done tons after that,” says Patrik. “It just opened up a different world.” Since that shoot he’s continued to shoot for Nike, as well as a host of other brands like adidas, New Balance, Vitamin Water and many others, always coming back to his love of water. In fact, this month he’s back with Nike Swim again in a campaign that highlights competitive swimmers.
“Water does its own thing when you shoot,” Patrik explains. “It’s like shooting smoke. That’s what I like about it: it’s hard to control.” In front of the camera, whether he’s under the water or using water on land, the natural movement of the water has its own life. Its unpredictability adds a whole new element that could not be pasted on top of whatever he’s working on; it’s totally wild and impossible to fake. It’s almost improvisational, almost intentionally random. “It’s like art: you never know what you’re going to get. When you throw paint on the wall, it drips in all different kinds of directions,” he explains.
Having the unique set of skills that Patrik has permits him to create incredible campaigns, like the latest with Nike Swim, with some of the best athletes in the world. Because of the wily nature of water, it’s always changing but Patrik finds that when everything else is in chaos the athletes he works with hold stillness. “Around an athlete it’s actually very calm. It’s funny how the chaos of underwater… it’s like a still life feel around it,” says Patrik. This unique environment allows Patrik to show us aspects of human experience that we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. It’s like peering into a totally different world.
Patrik Giardino Bottles Lightning
A photograph is a frozen moment. It’s a translation of life into a flatter dimension; crystalized communication on a single plane. It’s a representation of a moment but it cannot be a direct translation. Photography has its limits so a photographer has to make up the distance. When Patrik Giardino puts together an image he makes it an energetic study, using the frame of the photo to speak what he finds there.
Just recently, Patrik teamed up with Justin Theroux and Men’s Health for a shoot that is not serene at all. In the cover story for the magazine we see Theroux in an alley and rooftop, leaping from fire escape to chimney. Light cuts through shadows, brickwork pops, and Theroux is right there inviting us in. When Patrik was planning this shoot he picked a location that ultimately ended up being a second character in the images. “I always choose a place where we can do both action and still. When the actor shows up you never know what will happen, you have to gauge it a little bit,” says Patrik. “It’s always way better if you put him in an environment where he feels at home and he can do whatever he wants. It’s a little gamble because you never know.” When Theroux arrived Patrik didn’t know if the actor would be stiff or a great collaborator so he had to be ready for both. But it couldn’t have gone better. They fed off each other’s energy, and it translates directly to the images. It was successful enough that Theroux even posted an image on his personal Instagram, which is always fun to see.
In the total opposite direction, Patrik worked with adidas to help them announce their brand new adidas Athletics enterprise with a campaign for their banner piece: the Z.N.E. Hoodie. The campaign encompassed still imagery and motion pieces that he directed, creating a fully immersive experience. He teamed up with German athletes like footballer İlkay Gündoğan and tennis player Andrea Petkovic, starting with the still images that offer a window into the world of an athlete preparing for a big moment. We see them on their own, finding stillness to help them compete. “The pictures feel serene - they’re pumped up and focused,” says Patrik. He played with the portraiture, offering some images that show the athletes looking off into the distance, and others staring directly at the camera. They offer two different energies but both are valuable. Stillness and focus. Isolation and connection. “For me, I like both because I like the connected eyes too,” says Patrik. “You feel the power.”
For the motion pieces, he used voiceovers paired with ambient noises to amplify the message. “A lot is done with sound,” explains Patrik. “Sound design is really important when it comes to telling what’s going on in a man’s head and how he feels.” Separately, the motion and still photography tell slightly different stories, but together they give a full picture of what Patrik is doing with the campaign. “Those two work really well together to create this kind of piece, once the hoodie goes on everything goes away.” “Z.N.E.” stands for “Zero Negative Energy,” and the whole campaign allows Patrik to show how that works in real life, using the limits of the form to underscore the power of the product.
Please join us in welcoming Patrik Giardino to the roster at Bernstein & Andriulli.