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On Assignment: Shooting Adventure Sports images for Lifstil

Last fall I was honored to be able to shoot an advertising campaign for a German start up company named Lifstil. “Lifstil” is an Icelandic word, which means lifestyle. Lifstil manufacturers extremely tough and durable portable cases for Apple laptop computers out of high-end materials used to make snowboards. They make a variety of cases for all of Apples offerings including iPads, and 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch laptops. And, as you can see in the images below they offer these cases in a variety of colors – both radical and sublime. These cases are without a doubt the coolest laptop cases I have ever seen or used. I was given one of the prototypes while shooting the assignment and I have been using it for over six months now.The cases are custom tailored to each laptop size and the elegant padding inside each case hugs your precious laptop or iPad as if it was made of gold. They protect your computer from just about anything but a full submersion in water – and they weigh a lot less than a similar sized Pelican case. These cases are now available in Europe and the USA online at They are not inexpensive, but as with everything in life, you get what you pay for — and these are fantastically well made. I cannot recommend these cases highly enough and I am sure they will become a hot product here soon if they haven’t already.

Above is the “Valigostudio” case for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and below is the White Glossy case for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. These are only two of fifteen different designs. The graphics they have chosen for the cases are really quite beautiful. And of course you can choose a design that matches your personality.

For the ad campaign, I was asked to shoot adventure sports images of four different sports: rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing and snowboarding. The client needed action, portrait and lifestyle images of each athlete or groups of athletes. Most of the assignment was shot over four very long days last October in California and Oregon, and I also shot some of the surfing images while I was in Tahiti last August. We shot four sports in three days and had an extra travel day  to get up to Mt. Hood. It was an incredibly compressed shooting schedule and we had to make the most of it. One of the toughest parts of the assignment was finding a location to shoot snowboarding in September, which as you can imagine in North America is about the worst possible time to shoot snow sports – unless you are willing to travel to northern Alaska. We did manage to find a year round snowboarding camp on Mt. Hood, near Portland, Oregon that had year round snow on a glacier. The snow was very soft but they kept a groomed jump built year round for training purposes. In the end it worked out perfectly. I just had to choose the angle I shot from wisely so as not to reveal the lack of snow on the rocky background.

Most of the images were shot in and around the Los Angeles/Ventura area. We shot rock climbing at Stoney Point Park in Chatsworth, California. Stoney Point Park is an old school climbing area in the heart of a city and it also happens to be where many of the old American rock climbing masters like Yvon Chouinard cut their teeth. The mountain biking was shot in the Lake Elsinore area, just south of Los Angeles. The first day of the assignment was a 22-hour day. I woke up at 3 AM to meet up with Lydia McDonald, our rock climber, and the client at Stoney Point Park and got back to the hotel at 1 AM. We shot both the rock climbing and the mountain biking images on that first day. The second day we were up at 5 AM to shoot surfing in Ventura. Needless to say, we were burning the candle at both ends on this assignment.

The client used a large variety of images on their website. They also used a super-saturated color treatment for all of the images, which is all the rage right now in Germany. [Note: I have had two assignments with German clients recently and both are using super-saturated color treatments for their ad campaigns.] You can see an example of the color treatment below. The top image is how I processed and delivered the image to the client and the bottom image is a screenshot of the opening page on their website. The super-saturated colors definitely give the image a lot more of an edgy feeling, which is what the client wanted. They wanted to convey to the customer that these cases provide serious protection for your computer or tablet — so much so, that taking your computer with you on your next adventure, wherever that may be, is not as risky as it might be with any other product.

CAPTIONS — Above: Lydia MacDonald rock climbing at Stoney Point Park in Chatsworth, California and a screenshot of how that image is being used on the Lifstil website. Below (top left): Lydia MacDonald crimping down on a small hold while bouldering at Stoney Point Park in Chatsworth, California. Below (top right): A still life shot of one of the more colorful laptop cases resting against a downhill mountain bike. Below (bottom left): A portrait of downhill mountain biker Anthony Solesbee. Below (bottom right): A portrait of surfer Rick Alter. Image at the top of this blog post: Anthony Solesbee getting some serious air off a small kicker while downhill mountain biking near Lake Elsinore, California.

CAPTIONS — Above: Colin Langlois posing for a portrait while snowboarding on Mount Hood near Portland, Oregon. Below: Professional snowboarder Colin Langlois getting some serious air off a 40-foot jump on Mount Hood near Portland, Oregon. Bottom Image: Pro surfer Dylan Longbottom riding the tube of a sizable wave at Teahupo’o, Tahiti.

My thanks to all the athletes that helped us to create these images: Lydia MacDonald, Colin Langlois, Anthony Solesbee, Daniel Bleicher, Rick Alter and Leah Christensen. Without your talents these images would not exist. I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Rebecca Schatten at Arpen Productions for her help in tracking down models, locations and dealing with a large part of the production work for this assignment. Thank you to Oliver Hellriegel at Lifstil for making such a stellar product and hiring me to create images to help promote it. And finally to Jessica Williers at Raumbrand (the Advertising agency in Munich) for your tireless work on this project. If you travel with a laptop and want to protect it you will not be disappointed with the Lifstil cases. I can’t tell you how much I love my laptop case. It goes with me on pretty much all of my photo assignments and workshops now. And as you might have guessed, look for a full review of these stellar cases in the next issue of my Newsletter. Check out the Lifstil cases at

Michael Clark is an internationally published photographer specializing in adventure sports, travel, and landscape photography. He produces intense, raw images of athletes pushing their sports to the limit and has risked life and limb on a variety of assignments to bring back stunning images from remote locations around the world. A sampling of his clients include: Apple, Nikon, Red Bull, National Geographic, Outside and Outdoor Photographer.