A Moment with Shirley Robertson

Shirley Robertson, a British sailor who won two Olympic Gold medals, mother of two and presenter at CNN TV Series Mainsail.

Portrait shooting has a magical element which I enjoy every time from the first to the last moment, having the privilege to spend a private moment lasting from a few minutes up to one day or more with a personality.

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Shirley, in my view, is an exception. I always ask myself who that person is, what makes her different and capable of winning two Olympic Gold medals in a row?

I know there are plenty of athletes who have more than two gold medals, but in my view sailing is unique as the complexity of this sport is superior than in many other Olympic disciplines.

The world today is superficial. I see the tendency of running after the quick win, the low hanging fruits. Competing and winning two Olympic Gold medals requires the complete opposite, long term commitment, dedication, the energy to get up again and again after a defeat, isn’t that incredibly inspiring?

Will I be able to see and experience this during the shooting with here?

The portrait project with Shirley was not a short one. We have been talking about it since months; soon we realized we need many different photos, we need a series of images, each of them for a different purpose. It clearly would take a day to get this done.

It would be an intense day, and at the same time, I felt the weight on my shoulders: responsibility and a privilege. I cannot only spend a day working with her, ultimately what I see through my lens is what the people, who do not have the chance to meet here in person, will see of her.

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We all know the expression: A picture says more than a 1’000 words…So let’s get this x-thousand words right.

At the end of the project, we selected 20 different photos, each showing Shirley with here many facets, each with a different message.

It turned out to be an intense day, a potpourri of colors, ideas, a combination of clothes, expressions, lights, coffee breaks and much more. It’s tough to stay focused for so long in front of the camera, but she did it, and how she did, was terrific.

Not only is she a good sailor, but no wonder why she works at CNN, BBC and much more. One set after the other, she always came back on the set with outstanding positive energy, motivation, and commitment.

Even more, we could guide each other, she trusted me, and then we executed those ideas one by one, until the end of a long and intense day.

Is that one of the secrets and reasons why she can win two gold medals in a row? Did I had the chance to experience what makes the difference of losing or winning? Probably yes!

I have not experienced this with many people such a persistent focus and commitment over a long time in front of the camera.

Thank you, Shirley, it was more than a moment, it was a precious time with you and your partner Tim.

Look at the photos with this link.

A few days after the shooting I got an email from Shirley:

I know I have said it ten times already – but I’m chuffed with the images, they show oodles of personality.”

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Author: Jürg Kaufmann

Juerg Kaufmann is an experienced outdoor and people photographer with a strong passion for the sea, and the mountains. His images encompass both compelling action photos and videos in extreme locations and highly polished, stylized studio work. Whether shooting professional athletes in the studio or in action, yachts, or amazing landscapes, Juerg captures the emotions of sport in a clear distinctive style.

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