Matt Hanson | Ironman Champion


Earlier this week we had our first Magnolia Masters athlete up on the blog – Cody Beals – and today I wanted to end the week with another amazing athlete we had the pleasure of teaming up with while he was here, Ironman Champion Matt Hanson!

I actually had the pleasure of meeting Matt in Kona at his last race as an amateur athlete while we were doing some work for Balazs Csoke. I had no idea just how fast Matt was going to climb the rankings and how truly talented an athlete he really is. Hailing from Iowa (Yeah buddy!), Matt was down for a few weeks and we had the same privilege work with him as we did with Cody and a few others still to come.


We wanted to change each of the athletes up a bit, so we started out with Matt down on the Waterway in The Woodlands, TX which is actually the main drag, so to speak, for the Ironman Texas run course. We hit out right at sunrise and caught some of the morning rays bouncing off the towers to help through some light into the background, and powered up to overtake the sun with the Profoto B1 again (I can’t get enough of that light, absolutely fantastic!!). We shot in a quick warm up kit as well as Matt’s awesome new race kit for the 2015 season.



After some quick run shots (and I mean quick, that dude can run… Seriously. He already owns a couple of run course records and I wouldn’t doubt if he sets his sights on the Kona record sometime soon!) we changed it up a bit more and had Matt slip on his Huub wet suit and grab his Magnolia Masters cap to do some quick shots on the pier at Lake Woodlands – also where the Ironman Texas swim course starts. We didn’t get in the water since it was a brisk 40-something that morning and I didn’t want to even test the water, so we really tried to focus on getting some great shots of Matt looking like he was about to really prepare and enter the water for a race. The results were out of this world! We had a blast joking back and forth and trying to make Matt laugh while he did his best to maintain composure and give us these killer shots.


All joking aside, the lighting here was absolutely phenomenal. The morning sun behind him filled perfect and the quality of the light from the Profoto and the beauty dish were remarkable. I used the sun as a back light and almost a fill light when we turned Matt, and used the Lee Filters to drop the ambient and allow for a shallow depth of field. I can’t remember exactly how many stops of ND filters I had in the camera, but it was a decent amount (maybe a 3-stop and a 1-stop in succession for 4 stops total??).


I cranked up the Profoto to overpower and tried to light Matt very straight on because of the angular shape of his face and how well he can pull off a harsh side light. The quality from the beauty dish and how soft that light comes out of it is made the images immediately pop in camera, and at this point I honestly thought we weren’t going to get any better shots… I was wrong, we still had the bike.


After loading up one more time and heading back into The Woodlands a bit, we were loaded up in the back of the F-150 again (i’ve described this set up countless times here, here, and here so I’m going to let y’all go check it out if you want. Also remember that his is risky and if you choose to shoot this way, please be safe and do so at your own risk…) and ready to roll.




Matt was really a great sport through all of this and before we even set out, he had spoken to the wonderful people at QuintanaRoo Bicycles about whether they needed some shots of Matt for marketing. With that in mind, we really wanted to come through for them and see if we could get some more great exposure for Matt and Ruddock Visuals. I don’t know if Matt felt any pressure there but I can tell you that I double and triple checked every shot laying in the back of the truck before we left!


The first few runs were a little disappointing, and we really had the choice to say screw it or bear down and get the photos we needed for Matt and his sponsors. We just weren’t getting the sun to come through and play nice for us as a backdrop and we fought a few technical difficulties, but after we pulled it together for the 3rd round, the magic kicked in. The sun came out for us and played nice and I was able to put my camera about 2” off the pavement while we were rolling and get some absolutely killer hero shots of Matt to cap the shoot. It was almost hard to pack up and leave that great set up when the sun came out, but after a few quick loops we had some intense close-ups of Matt crushing the big gear and the hero shots to really show this guy as what he really is – larger than life!




Matt – Thanks again for being such a great guy and talent to work with and we can’t wait to see you in Oceanside, California and back here in The Woodlands for IMTX!

To see more behind the scenes photos and videos, don’t forget to follow Ruddock Visuals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo/YouTube. Stay tuned for more athletes and more on the Magnolia Masters camp in the next few weeks!

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