BTS: Creating Strobed Photos Showing People Becoming Athletes

Back in 2011 and 2012, Paris-based photographer Max Riché shot a creative series of portraits of athletes (including several Olympians) in the French National Sports Institute. Titled “Becoming an Athlete,” the project featured a strobed-style look that shows the athletes progressing from ordinary people to world-class athletes, all within single frames.

Riché has just released the behind-the-scenes video above that shows how he created the photographs.

Here’s what the photographer says in the project’s description:

This project was designed for the French National Sports Institute (INSEP) based on a personal original idea. It aims to represent the journey of athletes, some aspiring, some already well established, from the start of their training to the highest levels of performance. Several of the following athletes qualified for the 2012 London Olympic games and hold World Champion titles in their discipline.

The photographs at the same time create a symbol that describes the mission of INSEP, as well as a unique graphic metaphor of the mental and physical progression of the athletes, capturing their evolution through a typical movement of their sport, as they progressively put on their competition outfits.

So far, the project has won two notable photography prizes over in Europe: the EISA Maestro Photographer of the Year France and the EISA Maestro Silver Award, Europe, 2012-2013.

Here are the five award-winning images that resulted from the shoots seen in the video above (click them to view the higher-resolution versions over on Riché’s website:

Visit Riché’s website to see more of his work.

Becoming an Athlete by Max Riché (via ISO 1200)

Image credits: Video and photographs by Max Riché

  • Zach

    Really cool idea and executed very well. I’d like to try this someday…

  • Aaro Keipi

    That first picture is confusing…looks like he goes from having pants to swimsuit, then pants again, then swimsuit. Am I the only one who sees this?

  • Zach

    I think you’re talking about the 4th photo, and no, it looks like he goes from pants/shirt, to pants, to swimsuit…

  • brandon

    they’re okay. i’ve been kicking this idea around in my head for a couple yrs, but still have yet try it. I Think he should use gear capable of shooting at a pretty good frame rate though. Then he wouldn’t have to get them to try and do the same move a hundred times. just one run with each set of clothes. done. shooting against black seamless, also what i thought i might have to do. 2 questions though, what is that runner holding? it looks like some sort or star trek phaser, and question 2, is said runner really a pro athlete? wow, she’s a babe.

  • Alan

    I’d like to know what kind of lights and triggers he was using. In the video the camera seems triggered by a button on the ground…

  • Kieran Grasby

    Okay? You deem them merely okay? Wow! The “runner” is a competitor in the modern pentathalon

  • brob

    I dunno.. the execution is well done. But the idea fails a bit for me. What does their clothing really have to do with them becoming a pro athlete?

  • Cochese

    I think you fail to see the concept. The clothes symbolize the athlete going from an ordinary person to a pro athlete. The change from ordinary street clothing to pro competition gear is the embodiment of the idea.

    It would seem you are thinking of it as though the clothes make the pro. Which is not the concept. Though, I’d bet you’d never find a pro athlete doing serious competition wearing a pair of heavy denim jeans or a short skirt.

  • Grey Chen Junyang

    its slow shutter, what kind of frame rate do you want. And said phaser is a Steyr LP10 air pistol or similar. It costs more than the gold teeth you’re gonna get if I used them to plink them down one by one. troll