Meet the new Roger Federer
Roger Federer is surely never upstaged, but it was little 5-year-old Kai who was attracting all the attention at Roger’s photoshoot in Melbourne. A number of ideas for this shoot involved a real life child posing as little Roger – sounds rather confusing doesn’t it – and so it was down to my colleague Ed Pearson to go searching for said child among the corridors and precincts at Melbourne Park. Many an offer to meet THE Roger Federer came Ed’s way, most pressingly from a member of the Tennis Australia staff who was certain his son was the man for the job, but Kai proved to be the most patient of candidates. He would, after all, have to fit into Roger’s schedule of course. Two days of waiting and hoping and practicing his big part and finally on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by parents and big sister, it was time to meet the big RF.
And voila! Just to be helpful, photographer Paul had drawn a smiley face on the back of the board so Kai knew where to hold it up, but we’re sure he would have nailed it without. Well done Kai!
Now let’s get back to that rulebook. Last time, I picked on poor Paul for arriving in China somewhat underprepared. This time, I show just how uncomfortable we can make a player feel in the space of 10 minutes.
Number 4: Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing
We had Jo Tsonga leaping across the room, Marin Cilic contortioning inside an egg chair, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes atop a ladder....and then we had Kim Clijsters doing the splits. The biggest fear on any shoot was the player getting injured – even if they were lying on the floor on a 1-metre deep crashmat, you could never be too careful. Kim had no idea what Paul, Corinne and Ed were going to ask her to do but dressed in a lovely red twinset (stretchy trousers thank goodness) she was happy to showcase her trademark manoeuvre. Until a HORRENDOUS creaking noise came from her direction. Equipped with an equally horrendous gasp from the crew. The worst fears had come true. Her legs were fine, it was the bejewelled rubber shoe that had caused a scene.
At least Kim had done the splits before. Poor Andy Murray had no idea what was going on when we asked him to ‘frame’ himself. Things got from the sublime to the ridiculous as we experimented with different ways to hold the frame and Andy got just as confused as we did. He found his way out of there thank goodness – and went on to win the tournament in Shanghai – so no harm done.
Number 5: Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in
In addition to finding the childhood photo - and the player – in advance of the shoots, there was alot of behind-the-scenes work involved to prepare (see the last post – EXHAUSTING).
Stan Wawrinka definitely had one of the best childhood photos of all the players - check him it out, here he is aged 11 on holiday in Tunisia. Great photo. It meant that we could do something really out of the box with such a perfect photo as this. So we got to work in the stands of Shanghai's Qi Zhong stadium, creating a David Hockney-esque masterpiece.
Stan’s prop involved 3 hours of painstaking photography on the Polaroid (discovered in the amazing photographic shopping mecca in Shanghai after two hours of blind driving). Paul and Corinne had to measure each overlapping frame by eye to accumulate the entire photo in multiple polaroids, guessing the shooting distance to ensure that nothing was left out or too distorted. All the while with Andy Roddick bombing down aces behind us during his practice session. Death by art. The result was exactly what we were after and one of the highlights of the book. Well, looks like Stan approves anyway.
Doubling up as the photographer’s assistant, I also had to get stuck in naturally, although over at the Pullman Hotel in Paris – shoot location number two - I was bargaining for something a little more glamorous than this. Ironing. All that on-off activity on the white backdrop, all 24 metres of it, was causing mayhem. The solution – an iron and ironing board joined at the hip. Permanently linked. Inseparable. It's own umbilical cord. Never try ironing this way. Ever.
Last but not least good luck to all the Davis Cuppers this weekend, particularly these cuties. See if you can guess who they are:
...and why not follow the action too here.