To coincide with the recent winter Olympics in Korea, COOPH master Markus Berger was commissioned by Red Bull to produce a photo series with some of the participating athletes. This however, was not your everyday sports shoot. The challenge was to capture the athletes’ prowess whilst giving the images an authentic, Korean aesthetic.
Markus explains; "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.”
As you can imagine, collaborating with world-class athletes during their pre-olympic training leaves no margin for error and no time for reshoots. To combat this, Markus and his team built a set from scratch 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.”