off-season lounge: stephan potopnyk

Stephan Potopnyk, photographer --

How did you get to work with Tessa and Scott? You've worked with them a few times... how did that come to be?
I've worked with Tessa and Scott on numerous occasions now, both through International Figure Skating Magazine (IFS) and Skate Canada. I have photographed the national team for Skate Canada for the last 3 or 4 years and first had the opportunity to meet Scott and Tessa through that. IFS magazine has hired me to photograph Scott and Tessa for two issues now, both of which featured photos of them on the cover.

What's the creative process like during these photo shoots?
The creative process at these shoots is very collaborative. For the IFS shoots, we begin with a concept (or concepts) that IFS editor Susan Russell and I come up with. (Susan is fantastic as she always has unique ideas for locations and wardrobe and between the two of us we usually manage to come up with something different every time.) During each shoot I always encourage Tessa and Scott to give opinions or ideas and they're fantastic at doing just that. They'll do their best to make a good photo great!

For the national team shoots I'm usually doing basic head and shoulder portraits of the athletes as well as more casual, fun images. We don't usually have a lot of time allotted for these sessions so it's fairly quickly that we try to get all the skaters through, but for the casual images, I try and get some input from the skaters to keep it fun and interesting for them.

What does it take to plan these photo shoots?
Planning out each shoot primarily revolves around Tessa and Scott's schedules, in addition to publishing deadlines (for IFS). Once an agreeable date is set then the location is worked out (often depending on where Tessa and Scott are at that time) and a concept is created. A concept involves the backgrounds, wardrobe, props and overall theme of the photos.

How long do the photo shoots take to complete? What kind of team do you work with during this time?
Depending on whether it is an IFS or Skate Canada shoot, a session can last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. Normally for IFS we can get what we need in 2 to 3 hours where for Skate Canada it's longer, as most of the national team is involved. That time includes equipment and lighting setup which can be simple or a little more involved depending on the concept.

For IFS shoots, editor Susan Russell is almost always on hand to keep things running smoothly and we'll sometimes have an assistant around to help with equipment. We have involved a make up artist in the past, but not really with Tessa and Scott as they've been ok with looking after that themselves.

During Skate Canada shoots, I work with a Skate Canada contact to coordinate the skaters as they're usually doing tv interviews during the same time period as the photos. I will also have an assistant to help out with lighting equipment and backgrounds. Skate Canada also usually has a makeup sponsor on hand to do makeup for all the skaters.

What is your favourite photo from your photo shoots with Tessa and Scott, and why?
I don't have one particular favourite photo of Scott and Tessa but the images I particularly enjoy are the ones where their personalities shine through! Both Scott and Tessa are so vibrant and outgoing and when they start playing off each other in front of the camera, it's magic! It's easy to see how they're so fantastic together on the ice as they have such a great chemistry in general as partners and friends. They're always a please to work with!

source: original interview


sahararainfall said...

Thanks iggie for taking the time to work on these interviews to entertain us during the whole off-season. :) I actually like Potopnyk's action pics of Tessa and Scott for Skate Canada, the Mahler one especially from Nats 2010

iggie said...

haha... i'm glad that you've enjoyed it.