Sunday 25th Sept 2011 saw approximately 1000 competitors head down to the RAT RACE event village in Potters Field, London. This was a longer and more challenging race. Done on foot and bikes, the racers had to cover a lot of London. This time I had the car; Cliff drove and I navigated. When we passed Rat Race competitors on their bikes, it was a good opportunity to lean out of the passenger window and capture the action while moving. Communication was key between me and cliff so I didn’t fall out or take out any cyclists.
Alongside the cycling and running, the racers also kayaked, abseiled, climbed and did an assault course. It was very hard to keep up with the racers, despite having the car, but we had the traffic and congestion to contend with, as well as having to take the main routes and park the car and walk to the checkpoints where the challenges were taking place.
One of the highlights was that the BBC were filming Ben Fogle competing in the race. He is currently filming a series, in conjunction with Lonely Planet, ‘A Year of Adventures’ and RAT RACE was included. There have been many books about a year of adventures, but this is the first time that it will be televised. Lucky for Ben as he gets to compete/complete all these adventures, something that I would love to do. The BBC were very helpful as they were our big clue to finding Ben and tracking him down. They did have three camera crews, two in vans and third on a motorbike. Also with Ben was another competitor who had eyes on him the whole time, feeding back to the camera crews where they were and where they were next headed. I did ask if I could jump onboard with the team, but unfortunately they didn’t have enough room, or that was a polite way of saying ‘no’. I think it was the latter!
Anyway, here is my selection of photos, while Ben was an interesting focal point, my brief was to capture the RAT RACE, and so I shall present it that way too. (I am never easily starstruck!) Enjoy!
Enter the Mean Streets. An endurance challenge in London city centre held by RAT RACE Adventures. Starting from the Tower Bridge, competitors were given the signal to disperse and take over London. Their objective? Complete as many checkpoints as possible in the 2 hour time frame. You think that sounds simple? Wrong….the checkpoints were scattered around the city centre. None of the CP’s were in any logical linear line. You had to head to one and then navigate to the next, taking any route you fancied.
This race was on foot, so I was tasked with covering it on my trusty steed! That was a challenge in itself as I don’t know the streets of London. So my map was clamped between my teeth (this makes breathing a tad tricky…must buy a proper holder) and a next to useless free sat nav woman talking through my ear phones on my iPhone.
There was another photographer, Cliff Hide, but he was tasked with getting the press shots, whereas I was getting all the new material for Rat Race promotional and advertising shots. I headed to The Arch climbing wall and grabbed a few shots, lighting was tricky, but I captured a cool shot of a racer with his map clenched between his teeth. Then it was a brisk ride to Trafalgar Square where I had to Hunt The Rat – a cockney speaking chap in a rat costume. He was very tricky to find as he had been placed in the middle of a music festival that was being held there too.
Next was Russell Square, where the CP was in the middle of the fountain. Great opportunity for getting shots of racers getting wet, but I was bitterly disappointed when it was just a piddly floor fountain that spent most of its time dribbling water, not gushing it out. After some time the fountain picked up some height, and with a bit of encouragement I persuaded some of the racers to get drenched. It was fun to shoot and the racers appreciated the attention.
Back on the bike I raced back to Potters Field to the event village to capture the racers crossing the finish line.
Hope you like the pictures.
“The Modern Voice of Classic Elegance”
This shoot took place in Repton Boxing club, London, a real down and out training ring with real character and heart. “No Guts No Glory” is at the core of this club and it shows too.
This shoot “plays upon the theme of two sharp-dressed east London ‘firms’ pitting their champs against one another! Tailoring and contenders – the mood’s a little bit Savile Row, a tad squabble and row. “
The experience of assisting on an editorial was amazing. I got to learn how all the different elements of a shoot is brought together to create the final outcome. Assisting is hard work and you have to be on your feet. You have to anticipate the photographers every move, be ready with the next piece of equipment without him even asking for it. You have to be ready to step up to the plate. One prime example of this was on this particular shoot. Only one boxer turned up, so the shoot was going to fail at the first hurdle. We got on with getting the shots that didn’t require the boxer and the shots that only required one boxer (see final shots below), but one of the main shots was two boxers fighting, to help complete the whole feel of the story.
To maintain the authenticity of the fight, we needed another boxer that was in the same weight category as Duds (who was also great to work with). The production manager was on his phone, hunting down a boxer, even one of the models knew of some boxing friends, but none were able to step in. Then all eyes fell on me….yes me! I stood there not quite registering what everyone was thinking, but then it clicked. I was the same weight, build, height and probably the only one willing to get half naked. I shrugged my shoulders and thought why the hell not. You only to get one chance! So the kit was off and the shorts and gloves (and make-up…thanks Piero) were on.
Stepping in the ring, was to say the least, a bit daunting. I didn’t even get a chance to warm up. Dudds was in training and having watched him demolish a punch bag, I wanted to throw the towel in there and then. I didn’t even get to throw my first punch and I was already on the ground knocked out…..well actually I was instructed by Andy as the first shot he wanted was of the losing boxer KO’ed! That bit was easy…just lie there and try not to smile/laugh.
The next shot was an action shot. I was up for a bit of gentle sparring, but the production manager, for health and safety reasons (or the certainty that I would have been hospitalised) was having none of it. So we repeated the same move over and over until Andy was happy with the shot. The full article can be read here.
It was a great day and we got to do it all again the next day in the London Palladium for a different story, but that’s for another post.
Big thanks go to Andy Barnham, Rosco Productions, Lee Martland, Piero, Esther Quek and her assistants, NEXT Models, Eden Cai and Duds.
Hope you enjoy the video and the photographs! (All Photographs © Andy Barnham | Video courtesy of Eden Cai.)
On Saturday 26th March I went to London to help with the abseil challenge at the Oval cricket ground. Arrival was at 9am and we quickly set to work with sorting out the gear – gloves, belay plates/fig 8, harnesses, helmets, ropes and more. Safety was paramount and we all had an hour’s run through on how to rig the releasable abseil, safety line and how to rescue someone. We all split into smaller groups with at least one fully qualified member to run through it with us again. It was a great opportunity to learn new skills and new rope rigging systems.
We were told approximately 1000 racers would come through the abseil challenge and we had to operate 10 lines at any one time. I was fortunate to be allowed to shoot while working which is very rare as some people only want you to concentrate on one element of the day! I had in mind a short photo documentary about what our role was like as a safety supervisor on the event. Below is my story. If you read further down there are some photos from the official RandR photographers of me working. Thanks go to Charlie Summers (photos of me monkeying around) the other RandR photographer (sorry can’t remember your name), Ian Wilson for allowing me to shoot from the best position – on abseil! Thanks to Gaz for teaching me new valuable skills and the rest of the team for a fab day!
Behind The Lens
So you’ve seen my results from my perspective but how did I get into position? Most of the shots are from the top next to the lower off points and this allowed me to get the social shots, but to get the action shots I had to do what the racers were doing – abseiling! This involved setting up a separate point for me to lower off as it could not interfere with the racer’s anchor points. Using a releasable abseil anchor (so I could be rescued in the unlikely event of an accident) with overhand knots and half hitches, backed on a bight and carabiner, I was able to lower myself on my own Gri-Gri.
The simple shots were from the side of the building, parallel with the racers, but I wanted to get a new perspective. Branching out from the main wall that everyone was abseiling down were the support beams for the exterior wall. These 15meter long beams provided the answer, but getting out to its furthest point proved tricky as the beams were round and walking on them would have been stupid, not to mention dangerous, because if I fell I would have swung back into the wall that my rope was fixed to. So I had to fix myself below the beams with larks-footed slings which tighten and grip around the beam when loaded, keeping me fixed in position. But this caused another problem! While the slings were weighted I couldn’t move and getting my weight off the slings was hard too as I was dangling in space. The only way to progress along the beam was to wrap my legs and arms around it and slide along upsidedown while pushing the slings along with me! It all sounds very complicated, but in the end it worked and I was always safe while moving. Very important!
Now I was in position I could commence shooting! It was great fun and the photos below (thanks to Charlie Summers) show me getting into position.