By: Lisa Slagle
The internet has changed the face of retail. That’s old news, right?
But what’s new and awesome is that the digital era has cultivated a healthy playing field for boutique online brands to actually compete with larger companies. These digital boutique retailers can sell their products directly to consumers, eliminating both the overhead of a physical retail store and the need to offer wholesale pricing to other retailers.
At Wheelie, we love photographing and designing seasonal catalogs. This might even be our ideal project these days because catalogs combine photography with layout design and sometimes infographic design. That’s a hat trick for us over at Wheelie.
When outdoor and action sports companies drop catalogs a few times a year (or if you’re a bike company, annually), there are two really fun things we get to work around:
By: Lisa Slagle
Action sports photography is a lot of fun, and it's one of our very favorite things to do here at Wheelie. Shooting outside in the elements during the winter is an entirely different beast than a warm summer day. Here are five pro tips for getting the shot during a winter photoshoot.
Scope your location ahead of time.
+Make sure it's steep enough for your athletes to send it, and that there are also a few different options for you to shoot from. Know how and when (if) the sun hits it.
+In some cases, you may need to help build a booter the day before so it freezes overnight to be solid enough for your athletes to hit the next day. Be ready to help build the jump, so bring a shovel and your digging arms. Be careful not to ruin the landing-- the best shots show fresh snow with no tracks.
+If you're hiking up a mountain, you're going to want to keep your gear as light as possible, so if you know how sunlight naturally hits the zone you've been scoping, you won't have to lug a bunch of unnecessary lights and flashes up a mountain. Your back will thank you. It's all about mobility.
+Make sure your crew knows when and where to meet and that they won't bail. Make sure they understand that getting the shot can sometimes mean a lot of hiking and methodical movement, i.e. giving up a pow day.
+Check the avalanche report all week leading up to your shoot so that you know what the snow is doing, and don't put yourself or others in danger if avy danger is high. Take an Avalanche Level I class if you don't know what we are talking about.
+Get the necessary permits you need. Your friends at the USFS will likely be the ones helping you out with this. Each ski resort also has their own policy for shooting and filming on their terrain, so look into it if you're in-bounds somewhere.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR ATHLETES WEAR BRIGHT COLORS.
Look at the pic above. We photoshopped the athletes to wear grey and black clothing. It's the same image that you saw earlier in this post, but look how boring it is now. It almost looks black and white because the sky is overcast. In the colorful image at the beginning of this post, the athletes "pop" against the dull sky. As you can see, this makes a huge difference in the overall wow factor of your photo. Same goes for video-- wear colorful outerwear.
3. FAST ATHLETES = FAST SHUTTER
The goal of an action sports photograph is to freeze the action, so you will want to be shooting at a minimum of 1/1000 second shutter speed. If you want extremely crisp shots, go for 1/2000. It depends on how overcast or sunny it is--shooting snow can be tricky-- but an aperture of f4 is usually good, although you could go as small as f5.6 to make sure your athlete is in focus in the surroundings, but also still pops off of them. A lot of cameras have an S setting (for shutter-preferred) and those are usually extremely helpful.
+You might need to mess with your camera's EV Setting, too. +2 is usually good on an overcast day because it will overexpose the shot by two steps to help fight underexposure. Take a few test shots before the real deal!
+If you're shooting video and know you're going to want to edit with slow motion, shoot in at least 4K.
4. USE MULTIPLE CAMERA ANGLES TO TELL A BIGGER STORY.
+Make sure you capture a good variety of establishing shots, mid-range shots, and close-up shots. This tells a bigger story than a bunch of shots from the same location with the same POV. It is also a good idea to capture some of the "in-between" moments to portray the lifestyle of action sports. (We always try to grab an unstaged portrait or two of our athletes during every shoot and email them to the athlete as a thank you note afterwards.)
+Always think about framing. Typically, you want to position yourself downhill from the subject so you can see his or her face and body. Strong diagonal lines are helpful for showing action. Backlit sun can give photos the snow sparkle that dreams are made of.
+Think about where you and your tripod can post up that will be safe from avalanche debris, other skiers and riders, and also one that will produce interesting photos.
+Also think about where the athletes WILL BE in the air. You want to make sure they don't get lost in details of background forest or something, so think forward when you're setting up.
5. BE GOOD TO YOUR GEAR.
We personally love the Panasonic GH-4 because it's been dubbed "The Explorer's Camera." It shoots 4K video as well as amazing stills, and for a DSLR, it's light, small, and durable. After a few years of abuse falling out of steady cams, shooting in the rain, and summiting peaks inside our Dakine camera pack, our shop GH4 is still crushing it.
+That being said, cameras don't like to get wet. It's not good for them. While we believe in actually using our gear without worrying too much about it, we do recommend looking into a few equipment options that will save your gear on wet days. Covers, sleeves, and lens cleaners are awesome.
+Bring extra batteries. Cold drains batteries faster than heat.
+Bring extra memory cards. You don't want to be out there and run out of room on your memory card.
+We also recommend bringing a thinner pair of gloves with touchscreen finger pads so your hands stay warm and you can still push buttons. (These gloves are also good for using walkie talkies to communicate with athletes.)
Be safe. Have fun. Go big.
Want to talk about hiring our crew for your next video or photo shoot? Let's talk!
Lisa, here, from Wheelie Creative. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
I could make a ton of excuses about how I was on the trade show circuit (I slept on a lot of couches), that I was at the Telluride Mountain Ventures Summit participating in a conversation about diversity and inclusion in mountain towns (which was incredibly moving and thought-provoking), or I could even tell you that I wanted to spend my Sunday mornings riding powder instead of writing these emails (which is totally true, too), but the real reason there has been radio silence is that I have just been listening.
Showing up, listening, and observing.
Everybody knows that there’s an extra amount of noise to absorb lately, so I’m not going to get too deep into that. I will say this:
Winter trade show season for the outdoor and snow industry is right around the corner. Are you ready for it?
The outdoor industry loves this time of the year. You and your team have presumably spent the summer preparing for this time, came up with a great booth idea, and already have everything you need for it printed, packed, and ready to rock. Right?
(insert chirping crickets here)
Hopefully you’re ready to head to Salt Lake next month for Outdoor Retailer and then over to Denver for SIA, but if you’re a smaller company with a small team, chances are the scramble is real.
Ever since I read this terrific article about live video from the Outdoor Industry Association, one particular quote has been haunting my thoughts. It’s from Tony Pullen, the VP of Sales for Brandlive, a video streaming platform, and he said: “Live stream allows you to actually ask a question to the owner of Kuiu and he can answer directly. Produced video offers no interaction. We’ve gathered research from other companies, and the average view time for a Brandlive event is 21 minutes per viewer, whereas the average view time for YouTube is a minute and a half.”
21 minutes vs. 1.5 minutes. That’s a significant difference.
I strongly believe that the greatest gift you can give or receive is a person’s time. If viewers are willing to give 21 minutes of their lives to a live video, we are talking about a very powerful tool.
By: Lisa Slagle, founder & creative director
Sometimes life is funny in that the same question comes up repeatedly, yet manifests itself in different ways. I can’t tell you how many times in the last month at Wheelie that I have answered the same question catered to different client needs, so I figured it was time to write an article about it:
Should you hire an agency or an in-house marketing team?
You’d think, as the owner of an agency, I’d blurt out, “creative agency, duh!” and carry on with my day, but there’s actually an element of complexity to this question, and it deserves a robust answer.
If you’re a marketing manager, CEO, or business owner, you may be wrestling with the option of hiring a creative agency to help with your needs OR hiring an in-house employee to act as a designer or creative coordinator. There are advantages to both, and it kind of depends on what you are looking for.
Let’s do this:
By: Lisa Slagle, Founder & Creative Director
They cruise into the parking lot in a old, all-wheel drive Subaru, and you can hear a song from the old That’s It That’s All soundtrack blaring through the windows. They pile out, wearing beanies even though it’s August. One of them is eating a burrito while he pushes up. Another dude is pushing mongo and absent-mindedly singing lyrics from something you don’t recognize. The token girl is there, too, wearing a baggy Burton tank top and skinny jeans that match her beanie. They’re a tight crew, joking and laughing loudly. You and your buddies kind of stop what you’re doing and notice that these newcomers really suck at skateboarding.
You immediately realize what is happening:
Snowboarders have entered the skatepark.
By: Lisa Slagle, founder & creative director
I did something interesting this summer, and I have an extra smelly gear pile as a souvenir. I went on a massive road trip to put myself in the heart of the outdoor industry for a month. I set up meetings in different cities with amazing potential clients, and I went there, to meet marketing managers and business owners as human beings, eye-to-eye, and I also wanted to check in with the outdoor industry at large.
Living in Northwest Montana (practically Cananda) is awesome— don’t get me wrong— it’s the best, but sometimes I have to get out of this wild, wooded world and go check in on the rest of the industry.
I went to the U.P. of Michigan. I went to Fort Collins. I went to Breckenridge. And Golden. And Cheyenne. And Jackson Hole. And drove across Idaho with my hand dangling lazily out the window of my truck. Finally, I ended the trip with Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. I balanced work and play in all of these places. I rode stunning trails, listened to great music, and met with fascinating, smart people at companies doing fascinating, smart things.
A question I asked at every meeting was “If you could pick anything, what would you want us at Wheelie to take off your plate?”
The answers varied, but I noticed a theme: A lot of marketing managers and business owners are having a hard time managing and measuring the success of their athlete and ambassador programs.
By: Lisa Slagle, Founder & Creative Director
There’s this thing humans do where they don’t want to put something into the world until it’s perfect. We see this with new business owners a lot, waiting until the “right” moment to launch their website. We see this with photo shoots and the need to wait for perfect weather. And we see this with social media, wanting to post perfect photos that are ever-so-casually on-brand.
It’s funny how social media is changing because of the rise of Snapchat.