That’s just one reason why, when photographer Markus Berger was commissioned by Red Bull to produce a photo series with some of the participating athletes, he had to get creative. The other reason why? To make incredible photos, of course. The goal? Make the athletes look awesome – with a nod to a authentic Korean culture.
Markus explains. “We had athletes from different countries, performing different winter sports, and wanted to come up with a concept that would tell the complete story in one striking visual,” says Markus. Not easy to imagine, and not easy to execute. “At first we were looking into manga art and other modern comic styles but had to accept that manga is 100% Japanese and that there is no specific comic style attributed to Korea. Our research then led us to traditional Korean painting, sketching and calligraphy. Teaming up with Korean artist Chan Jun Jung, we were able to create a harmonious mix of these art forms. We also created a story behind the images by adding creatures that either live in Korea, or are deeply bound to Korean mythology.”
What he created was a mix of the reality and fantasy – combining striking original art with striking poses. It’s an impressive feat – while the athletes (and art) were still, the final images were anything but.
More impressive: they did this in the brief moments between the athlete’s pre-Games training. Markus and his assistant custom-built a set that they could easily take apart and reassemble. This allowed them to bring the shoot to the athletes by transporting all their gear in two small trucks.
"We ended up building and shooting at parking lots, school gyms and photo studios, often travelling more than 300km each day between the locations and shoots. Eventually, the whole project ended up being one big road trip that was really fun and brought the whole team together. By the end of it, the set-up just became automatic.”