Jason Madara Works It Out for Equinox
Equinox Fitness tasked Jason Madara with a "mammoth undertaking," according to the company's art director Timothy Strudwick: photograph each of its 63 clubs for promos. "Some of our interiors hadn't been shot since opening (and entirely lacked assets) and others hadn't been shot for many, many years," Strudwick explained. "Jason and I had a good conversation about the project and we instantly had a great rapport upon meeting at the first club in L.A."
Strudwick and Equinox creative director Liz Nolan sought to depict the beauty of the spaces without showing people. "We wanted to add a human element through light and subtle propping in certain pictures, and what attracted me to Jason's work was not only his lighting, but his use of color – the way he sort of washes hues over certain areas to draw the viewer's eye to another part of the frame," Strudwick said. "For the propping, we didn't want it to become too contrived, so we added little touches, like a hand towel draped over a railing, as a reminder that as beautiful and luxurious as these spaces look, there's still a warmth to them ... people use them."
Thirteen clubs in, Madara is "at the point where he reads my mind," Strudwick remarked. "My input on set is fine-tuned ... there's little things I want to work in, but generally, we know the shot the minute we see it."
Madara cited an image of a yoga room at the Downtown L.A. location as a favorite: "That was done with long exposures and ambient light ... I love that picture because it feels quiet, but it's not your typical yoga room – with Los Angeles right outside the window. I used some of the street light to bring the outdoor mood inside." He also mentioned his photo of the Equinox placard in West Hollywood. "It was the second shot that I did at the very first club. It's always nice to get the sign when I can, and this incorporates where the club is – Sunset Boulevard is such an iconic place."
To capture the ten or twelve images per location, Madara and Strudwick scout for one day and shoot for two days, working partly at night when the clubs are empty. "We've figured out a way to do this with minimal equipment – shooting everything on a tripod and occasionally using a strobe or hiding LED lights in the scene," Madara noted. "The main challenge is ... I've done thirteen yoga rooms so far, thirteen bike rooms, and I go in and say, 'How can I do this in a completely new way?' It's through lighting and pushing the composition. I'm lucky to have Liz and Timothy embrace the way I work."
As his measure of success, Madara offered, "When we're done with the 63 clubs, could we make a book and would this book be beautiful, regardless of the subject matter?" His answer is yes.