2019 was another busy year for Michael Blann Photography. The specialist photographer has noted ‘some great commissions and personal work for a new Mountains book’, and has showcased a few of the highlights from 2019 before looking forward to 2020.
“Certainly the work for Zwift this year stands out as one of the highlights for me,” said Michael Blann. “The sheer scale and technical aspects of the production plus meeting and photographing some of the world’s greatest cyclists is always going to be exciting. The icing on the cake is seeing the finished work being used across so much media. I’ll be following this up with an in-depth blog about the complexity of such a big shoot and working alongside film crews. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the new campaign featuring the supremely talented Mathieu Van der Poel has just been released.” (Further images from the shoot can be found online.)
“There have been many studio shoots this year but working with HEXR Helmets and its ground breaking 3D printed design was an opportunity to do something completely different which required some conceptual thinking to get their story across. The helmet features so many unique features ranging from safety, aerodynamics and interchangeable elements it really opened up the creative process in the studio and allowed us to have some fun with experimental lighting techniques and special effects. Here is an image from the campaign about speed and aerodynamics which was all shot in camera without the need for post-production effects.” (Further images can be found online.)
“Commissions from this Conde Nast title are always exciting as they tend to combine my love of landscapes with a technology element. One assignment I did for them in 2019 was in Zermatt, Switzerland featuring the newly opened 3S Glacier Gondola ride to Klein Matterhorn (3,883m) which is the highest gondola ride in Europe. It’s a marvel of engineering and to some degree opulence with its Swarovski crystal encrusted cabins. The setting against the snowy backdrop of the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in Europe, made this a special trip.” (Further images can be found online.)
“Another trip for WIRED (which has only just been published), was a story looking at the problems of global warming on the wine industry in Bordeaux and how they are coping with the changing climate and its effects on the long term sustainability of the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes. Scientist and the great wine estates are now combining forces to develop new strains of vines which are more resilient to frost and drought. Seeing test vines wrapped in bubble wrap with wires leading off to monitoring devices certainly bought home that even the most ancient industries are now looking to science to help them combat the effects of global warming.”
“This is one of my favourite magazines. The editorial is devoted to the long read and always tries to find stories that are unusual or not what you would expect from a magazine devoted to cycling. To this end, I found myself in a boxing gymnasium in Northern France covering a story on Nacer Bouhanni, France’s ‘enfant terrible’ of the cycling world who happens to swap his Lycra bib shorts for baggy boxing shorts in the off season. It was the first sport he took up as a kid and now he uses as a means of keeping fit and expelling some of those pent-up emotions which he has gained a reputation for.” (Further images can be found online.)
“Lastly, a low-key shoot with retired cycling professional, Peter Kennaugh who was once tipped as a potential Tour de France winner but who left the sport prematurely siting issues with mental illness. Read the in depth interview in the forthcoming Rouleur Magazine.” (Further images can be found online.)
“It’s been another full on year with travel to photograph new climbs for the revised Mountains book coming this March and also commissions for Swiss Tourism Board. Much of the summer from May to September was taken up with trips to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Austria and Cote d’Azur exploring new climbs. It has to be said it never feels like work when you are in the mountains; it’s an environment I love and something I will always come back to. There is so much more to discover too and already 2020 is looking like a busy summer with several trips already in the diary.”