sunita kaur - climber

Sunita is a climber and i had wanted for a long time to do a combined portrait and action climbing shoot at a climbing centre. The action shot was very challenging, lighting-wise, since any light that was put onto Sunita instantly overlit the wall, or flared off it, or bounced into the background, or revealed distracting details. After some experimentation I found a lighting solution that worked well and we shot lots of action shots, trying to hit the sweet spot where Sunita's muscles were engaged but she wasn't straining so hard that she looked uncomfortable.

At the post production stage the main task was to minimise destracting details, of which there are a LOT on a climbing wall. I spent a lot of time removing chalk and rubber marks on the wall, and decreaing the saturation of the holds so that they eye focused on Sunita rather than the background.

The portrait shot, which I had always envisaged in front of a towering wall studded with holds, had it's own challenges. Climbing walls look great, but they are essentially big colourful blocks of distraction, painted in colourful tones and covered with bright shapes, almost designed to take your eye away from the subject of the photograph; Sunita.

My solution was to separate Sunita and the background in post procustion and knock down the saturation and contrast of the wall, while pumping it up on Sunita. This had the effect of bringing her forward and drawing they eye to her, while avoiding being distracted by everything that is going on in the background of the image.

As always on my shoots, it's important to me that everyone has a good time, and luckily Sunita is amazing to work with and a fun, positive person to be around. Despite it being a hot, sweaty shoot with limited time and a difficult subject to light we kept smiling all night.