When asked what got him into action and outdoor photography, Todd Langley says that adventure has always been in his blood. “It is a big part of my personal life,” he explains. Langley has a high-energy spirit with a sharp sense of humor and a photographic eye for atmospheric moments that get your heart racing.
Most people cannot say that their first real go at white-water rafting was a 23-day excursion down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, but Langley can. With virtually no prior experience, he got a permit to raft as part of a private group, drawing the attention of the Colorado newspaper The Durango Herald, who featured a story on him and his journey.
In his youth, adrenaline took priority over conventional aspirations. He says he dropped out of college at 19, but adds, “When I say college, what I mean is, I was skiing and trying to get a degree in my off-time.” Photography started as a by-product of his adventures - he picked it up while backpacking around Durango. Although shooting seemed to come naturally to him, he said it was actually his mother’s idea to pursue it as a career. “Personally, I just think she wanted me out of the house,” he quips. He later returned to school for an associates degree in photography at the Colorado Institute of Art.
Langley brings to the table 25+ years of professional experience, a true understanding of his subjects and the motivation and endurance to be the best at what he does. He is always inspired by the locations, the sport or the athlete, and aims to create inspirational, authentic images that encapsulate the surrounding environment. “My clients typically need brand recognition or lifestyle. I try to capture what they need in the most interesting and exciting manner.”
One of his longer client relationships is with Dick’s Sporting Goods, who have employed him on various projects for the past four years. He began by shooting their winter sports images and since then, their in house creative team has sought him out on a regular basis. Most recently, he shot their latest camping catalog in a large-scale five-day shoot in natural areas in California, in and around the Russian River, Armstrong Redwoods and Seal Point in Sonoma State Park.
Langley and Dick’s in house Director of Creative Advertising Scott Lenz collaborated together along with Vertis Communications Creative Director Jody Pfister to work out the concept and location possibilities. Langley says, “We want to create real life, breathtaking images that highlighted the product.” The locations were selected for their scenic beauty, versatility and proximity to each other, as they would be shooting multiple activities for an entire catalog in less than a week.
Langley set out with a crew of twenty people, including the creative team and clients from Dick’s corporate offices. Three days before their arrival, heavy rain brought the levels of the Russian River up three feet, leaving the water brown with sediment and the current strong. They worked around it, moving on to shoot in the other locations before returning to the river when it had calmed and cleared up. Langley shot the entire catalog with his Canon EOS 1DS Mark II and alternated between 70-200 mm and 17-35 mm lens. The crew returned to their base in Guerneville every night, living off of a taco truck they discovered in a Safeway parking lot. Pleasantly surprised to discover it boasted a 4.5/5 star rating on Yelp, they held an unconventional wrap dinner there to celebrate the end of production.
Lenz gives high praise to Langley’s work, commenting, "One of the benefits of working with Todd is that he always seems to add to our vision of the images we are trying to capture. I think he does this is by listening carefully in preproduction to really understand what we are after and then as the shoot progresses he spots opportunities that we may not have considered and is flexible enough to change things up in order to capture something special.” Pfister adds, “I rely on Todd's athleticism and creativity when I approach any photo-direction assignment. Athletes understand athletes, a notion that makes Todd so successful when it comes to capturing authentic, dramatic sport and outdoor photography.”
Langley’s images appear on in-store signage in Dick’s Sporting Goods across the United States and in their 52-page camping catalog delivered to almost three million homes.
For more of Todd Langley’s work, visit his Web site.