Washington Post Magazine: Greg Glassman Cover

It's a good day when the photo editor from the Washington Post Magazine calls to ask me to create a COVER IMAGE for the publication. Crossfit founder Greg Glassman works in Portland. The Post wanted a punchy, vibrant image to accompany a story about Greg taking on "big soda". This is Greg's campaign to get soda completely out of the school system.

My instinct was to pitch a "reverse Godzilla" idea. I'd have Greg standing in 'Soda City' as a heroic giant, ignoring the attacks from soda tanks and soda planes. It was a 'punchy' metaphor, nothing subtle about it, but it felt fun and eye catching.

I remember watching Godzilla and King Kong movies on after-school TV.

In monster movies, I sometimes rooted for the people. It was their city being attacked and their friends that were being stomped on, but secretly, I was always were rooting for the monster. My editor green lit my idea right away, so we went directly to the store to buy hundreds and hundreds of cans and bottles of soda. We spent nearly $750 in pop.

I wanted to avoid CGI, and to have some rough spots where the boxes were worn. Imperfections in the materials and build techniques are very wabi sabi.

I decided an very 'real' look to our set—Not sloppy, just hand made. I intentionally left the fishing line on the pop fighters, the flare on the boxes, and the 'dents' in the 12 pack boxes from the cans—all of that stuff added some needed grit to the image.

On the day of the shoot, Greg decided he didn't want to leave his office.

It was the day of the shoot, and we had everything nailed to the floor, lit, and ready to shoot. About 30 minutes before our shoot was to start, we got word that Greg had decided that he wouldn't break away from his office across the river. We were, however, invited to come over to his place and get our shot. A very very fast scramble ensued!

We quickly documented the camera placement, distances, angles, and lighting direction, packed the Xterra and whipped across the river. We built a mobile studio in Greg's driveway, and recreated our lighting and camera setup on the fly, so that I could composite the portrait with our studio shot.

Shooting Greg Glassman in his driveway in NE Portland
Shooting in Greg Glassman's driveway in NE Portland

I'm pleased with the result—it's solid idea that comes together nicely, and there's nothing obvious about the composite. It's punchy, striking and eye catching. Mission accomplished.

-andy batt