Behind The Alliance 15.5 Cover / by bradlee rutledge

The newest cover of Alliance Wake is a perfect example of what hard work can get you. I had been working with Cody for a few weeks shooting various things for his interview in the June issue of the mag. We had checked out a few spots to winch, but nothing was really working out. I was at home one day when I get a Facetime call from Cody freaking out about this spot he was at (he frequently would Facetime me spots to see what I thought). We talked for about 30 seconds before the call got dropped, but I knew he was stoked based on his nonstop yelling into the phone and inability to put coherent sentences together. He called me back a few minutes later and was showing me the spot and what he had in mind for it.

I went over to Cody’s house the next day and we built a pallet kicker and talked about what shot he was thinking.  This spot is unique because there is a bridge over the top that you can walk across. This gave us options for different angles to shoot from. The original idea was to get a shot of Cody grabbing tail into the wall ride. Once we had gotten everything set up and he hit it a few times we quickly realized there just wasn’t enough time to get a proper grab and still wall ride afterward.  We decided to focus on just getting a shot of him wall riding as high as possible.  Cody sessioned the spot for about an hour before he got exhausted and was done for the day. Here is some of what we were able to get:


I started out shooting from above, but I immediately realized this wasn’t going to work the best.  It was overcast and just didn’t look that great.


I moved farther down and decided to shoot long lens.  This photo was what we were going for but he still wasn’t getting that high on the wall.

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He finally got higher on this frame.  We were both really pumped on this one because you could see the kids on the bridge above.  Trying to incorporate natural elements always adds to photos, especially winching.


We went back and forth between color and black and white becasue of the flat light

Unfortunately nothing had the pop and wow factor that we look for in a cover, the light was still too flat. Basically we had more content for his interview, but still no cover. We knew this spot could get a cover though. Unfortunately Cody and I weren’t able to shoot there for another two weeks. We had everything lined up to give it one last go because he left on a trip and we didn’t know if we would have time when he came back. I was on my way to the spot when I got a call from Cody and I immediately could tell he was bummed. He was at the spot and everything had been taken out: kicker, sandbags, cinder blocks; all gone.  We were both bummed because it was a lot of work lowering the kicker down into the spot and lining up a crew to go winching. After looking at our schedules we realized that we had one day between when he got home and before I left, so we made a plan.

On the last day we had to shoot the weather was not looking good.  It was raining all morning and had no signs of letting up. Still determined to make it happen, Cody was out there re-building the kicker by himself for four hours in the rain before we were supposed to shoot. The shoot kept getting pushed back due to the rain, but finally, in typical Florida fashion, the sun came out and I rushed to the spot to meet Cody. When I showed up the kicker was built, rope was out, winch warmed up and all I had to do was set up flashes.  We had a smaller crew than the last time I was there. Byerly was on the winch and BT was standing on the bridge filming and helping get the rope under every time.

I really liked the idea of something from above still and wanted to make it work.  You rarely get a chance to shoot from high places, especially winching, so that was the first angle I shot from again.

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This was a good start to the session and gave us something different then what we had before but it was a little busy and Cody got lost in the clutter.


Moving over worked to clean up all the clutter but it still didn’t give you a good perspective of how high he really was on the wall.


I decided to go back and shoot it long lens like I had the first time.  Cody boosted one of the biggest wall rides yet but unfortunately he ended up where the flash was and it overexposed his body.

Quick kicker adjustment between hits.

There it is!  I moved the flash farther back and lowered the power and then we got this shot next hit. I immediately knew this was it and ran up to the bridge to show Cody, he was stoked and so was I.  He was perfectly T’d up on the wall and his body was in a good position.  I was leaving more water towards the bottom of the photo because I know the cover format crops some from the top and bottom.  I really liked having the edge of the bridge in there acting as a natural frame of sorts around the action.

I rushed home to send this shot off to the guys at the office in California and immediately everyone agreed it would be the cover. Cody came over to check out what we got and we were both even more stoked after seeing it on the computer. I already had a mockup of the photo on the cover, but I didn’t want to tell Cody that he got it yet. He busted his ass to make this happen and without that none of this would have been possible. I texted him a picture of this issue two days before it came out and I believe the exact text I got back was “HOLY SH!T.” I was going to surprise him in person but he is currently at stuntman school learning how to be a movie star… Don’t believe me? Go pick up this issue and read the conversation we had with him about growing up in Virginia, his cookie addiction and why he wants to become a stunt man.

Camera: Canon 1D Mark IV
Lens: Canon 70-200 F/2.8L
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/1600
F-Stop: f/5.0
Flash: AlienBees 1600

http://www.alliancewake.com/wake/behind-the-photo-cody-hesse-cover/