Jonathan Chapman Pays Tribute to Specialized Bicycles

May 9, 2011

By Jacqui Palumbo

© Jonathan Chapman

Minneapolis-based photographer Jonathan Chapman and his team have had great success shooting for major advertising companies across the world. Their extensive clientele list includes Apple, PepsiAmericas, Inc. United Airlines, McDonalds, Wells Fargo, General Electric, Delta and CondeNast Publications Ltd. No matter how busy they are with client assignments, Chapman and his studio manager, John Fontana, always find time to book and shoot personal projects. They bring the same mission to these projects that they do with big name clients – to “create content that is both creatively engaging and offers a unique look at conventional people, places and things.”

They have already begun working with a variety of clients in the world of motion- including a project for McDonald’s during the spring of last year.  Much like they have worked to experiment and test on still-based projects, they are now regularly testing shooting motion-based projects.  This past January they put their motion skills to the test in homage to Specialized Bicycles, a brand known for its innovation, quality and reliability. Chapman has previously photographed bicycling stills, but video brings a different perspective in capturing the rough, strenuous, yet agile motion of mountain biking.

Chapman and his team had a shoot already scheduled in Palm Springs, California for Purina, when he and Fontana decided to take some time during the trip to shoot with Palm Springs Cyclery. They worked with the owner, Chris Cross, and two local riders, Brett Stevens and Scott McKelvey. Stevens and McKelvey were selected for their knowledge of technical riding, the latest Specialized equipment and local riding trails.

The concept aimed to portray the riders’ lifestyles and the quality of the Specialized brand. Chapman and Fontana wanted to “speak to the edgy nature of mountain biking” in innovative ways. The footage captured portrays a dichotomy of perception versus actuality. Long shots of the riders, creating sweeping motions that seem effortless, are juxtaposed with footage taken from the riders’ point of views, revealing the rocky terrain they ride on. There is a feeling of strength in their sport and beauty of the elements that work both in their favor and against them.

The location functioned in a similar way for Chapman, as both an aid and a hindrance. It gave opportunities for extraordinary landscape compositions and interesting angles, but the terrain presented challenges in carrying equipment. They limited their gear to a Canon 5D MKII, an HD Hero Cam, a tripod, pocket dolly, recorder and microphone. Only natural light was used, but was later altered by editor, color grader and graphics animation specialist, Danny Schmidt, who completed all post production for the project.

Soon after its completion, the final product was sent to a Specialized representative. It was well received by the company, and was also featured on blogs Workbook and Found Folios. Next up, the team will be travelling to Cincinnati to shoot five motion spots with agency Intrinzic for St. Elizabeth Hospitals.

Chapman says in perfecting their expansion to video, they are still actively nuancing the coloring of their content. One of the aspects of his still work that draws clients is the atmosphere created by his use of light, and he wants to bring the same quality to his motion work. They are constantly learning and evolving, always inspired by the people and places they come in contact with. He also places an emphasis on partnering with talented editors, designers, writers and assistants based on the project at hand. “We are always brainstorming and reaching out to continually broaden the perspective of our work,” he commented. “Things are more collaborative than they have ever been.”

To view the full video, click here.

To see more of Jonathan Chapman’s work, please visit his Web site.