How far would you go? Meet three image-makers pushing creativity to the limit

The work of Jake Baggaley, Sharon Cosgrove and Canon Ambassador Eliška Sky couldn't be more different. But one thing they share is a determination to get 'the shot' – whatever that takes.
A model bends over backwards, her arms in the air, while photographer Eliška Sky crouches behind her to capture the shot.

Visual artist Eliška Sky meticulously plans her shots to turn the vision in her head into reality. "It's a balance between preparation and improvisation," explains the Canon Ambassador. "If you feel prepared, then you can have the confidence to feel the situation and improvise in the moment and that's sometimes where you get your best results."

There are some people for whom photography and video is more than a job. Even more than a passion. It's like an itch they can't shake off. They'll travel to remote places, endure extreme heat, undertake hair-raising physical challenges. They'll spend hours meticulously crafting a scene they've sketched out or imagined beforehand. They'll test the limits of their kit – and their own stamina. They're not satisfied with anything less than perfection.

Here, three image-makers – an adventure videographer, a food photographer and a visual artist – discuss how, in different ways, their restless creativity pushes them to go to wild lengths in pursuit of the perfect shot.

A surfer leans to the side of a jet board, almost parallel with the water, their hand trailing just above the surface.

"Shooting things you enjoy personally makes it easier to get great images because you understand why it's fun," says adventure videographer Jake Baggaley. "With extreme sports, you really want to show the emotional experience of people doing it, what they love about it." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 70mm, 1/500 sec, f/3.2 and ISO3200. © Jake Baggaley

A surfer leans to the side of a jet board, almost parallel with the water, staring at a photographer in a nearby red kayak capturing the shot.

If Jake has a shoot coming up in extreme conditions, he'll often be required to brush up on specific life-saving skills and will undertake training in that area. "Planning ahead and making sure you've thought through your safety precautions is important. You have a responsibility for the models or athletes involved," he says.

Jake Baggaley: travel and adventure videographer

Jake Baggaley has always loved adventure sports. Professionally, he started out shooting editorial and documentary photography but soon realised that he could combine his love of image-making and the outdoors. "A lot of the work I do these days is fun stuff that I'd want to be doing anyway," says Jake, although, to most people, his idea of fun – racing through rainforests, dangling off mountain ledges – can seem pretty extreme. "I like to be embedded in the situation that I'm photographing so I'm seeing it from the perspective of the person doing the sport.

"If I'm doing climbing shots, instead of photographing or filming the subject from far away, I'll be abseiling down the rock too. I want the images to feel intimate, like you're really part of the action," he continues. "It's the same with shots of runners. I'll be running alongside the athletes." It helps that Jake has a background in mountain running, something he still does as a hobby, which gives him a base level of fitness that means he's ready to take on gruelling physical challenges.

One particularly tough shoot was an assignment to capture skiing images for an outdoor clothing company in the mountains of Sweden. When Jake and the team arrived at the remote cabin where they were staying, after hiking for hours with their gear in temperatures of -10°C, the key code didn't work. "In the end, we had to smash the lock," he laughs.

It couldn't be more different from the work he did covering trail running races in Borneo. "The conditions were super-hot and humid. I'm running through the jungle trying to keep up with these athletes, with dangerous wildlife around me, trying to get different angles and shots," he remembers.

In another job, on the Dorset coast for a company that makes jet-powered surfboards, Jake shot a promotional video from aboard a kayak at sunrise. "It was extreme because the rider had to come very close to me. It was extremely loud, so the biggest challenge was communicating with the surfer," he says. "That and manoeuvring the kayak quickly enough to get into the right position to capture what was happening. In this situation, I just had to trust that the rider knew what he was doing and had control."

With so many variables, Jake appreciated the high megapixel resolution afforded by the Canon EOS R5, which gave him leeway in case he needed to crop afterwards. In a low-light scenario such as this, the image stabiliser was a great help, too. "It meant I could shoot slightly slower, get some blur in the background but keep him super-crisp to give a sense of how fast he was moving," he explains.

A technician wearing white gloves cleans the sensor of a Canon camera.

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Slices of lemon splash into still water against a perfectly black background.

Food photographer Sharon Cosgrove's advice to those keen to take a similar career path is simple: "Shoot what makes you happy and do it in a way that comes naturally to you. Get your work out there and get eyes on it, don't be afraid of what others think. Follow like-minded creatives and use their support, get advice, gather contacts and get out of your comfort zone." Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM lens at 1/1000 sec, f/4 and ISO4000. © Sharon Cosgrove

Photographer Sharon Cosgrove looks at the screen on her Canon EOS R6 as she adjusts the lens.

"The Canon EOS R6 is so intuitive," says Sharon. "As a lifelong Canon user, I love how they don't mess with the design and layout of functions, dials and buttons. I can pick up any camera in the series and use it without thinking. When under pressure on a shoot you need to know where everything is."

Sharon Cosgrove: food photographer

On the surface, food photography doesn't sound like the most dangerous genre – you're not dodging lions in the Serengeti, after all. And yet, Belfast-based Sharon Cosgrove has had her fair share of injuries – falling off ladders, steps and rickety chairs trying to capture her edible subjects from the perfect angle. But the biggest sacrifice she's made to achieve the innovative, mouth-watering images for which she's known, is time. "A shot can equate to days of research, prop hunting and set building," she says. Throwing herself into a shoot means missing out on socialising with friends and family – tough, but worth it when she gets what she's after.

This extreme commitment to her craft was in evidence on her recent shoot with the Canon EOS R6, where she was experimenting with food being dropped into water. It required skill and persistence. "I tried various cuts and sizes of fruit, different drop heights, various camera settings and had to change litres of water in between," she says. "Dunking the fruit and taking the shot at the same time was tricky - it's all about timing and repetition. You need patience, determination and vision, plus an understanding of why something isn't working and how to fix it. It took me a full day of shooting to get one shot. I always like to keep going, no matter how exhausted I am."

The EOS R6 was the ideal tool for the job. "It's so quick and so quiet, firing off shots like a silent machine gun. I never miss a shot with this camera," enthuses Sharon.

Sharon shot on high-speed continuous mode, starting to shoot before the fruit hit the water and then continuing for a few seconds after "in order to have a good chance of capturing the slices breaking the surface with a splash and sinking gracefully", she explains. "Sometimes just one image can take hours on end, but when you get there it's exhilarating. Shooting in continuous mode gave me the best chance of capturing the action, but it didn't take long to rack up a few thousand shots."

A person kayaking on still water, in silhouette, with the setting sun turning the water orange.

My outdoor adventure companion: Canon EOS RP

Adventure photographer Jake Baggaley explains how the lightweight EOS RP gives him a creative edge when shooting in remote locations and challenging situations.
A dancer in a flowing red dress poses on top of a clear plexiglass table, while photographer Eliška Sky lies underneath, shooting through the plexiglass.

Working with teams of up to 30 people and nourishing those creative relationships is vital for the success of Eliška's shots. "I take the time to really communicate my vision to everyone involved – the hair and make-up stylist, the models – everyone needs to be on board when you're creating something unique."

A woman lies on her back on a black sheet, covered by a black blanket and with a camera held to her eye.

While shooting upwards through a clear plexiglass table, Eliška found she was reflected into the shot, so she concealed her body under a black blanket.

Eliška Sky: visual artist

Canon Ambassador Eliška Sky's work always begins in the same way – with an idea for something she wants to say. Where it might go after that is anyone's guess. The Czech artist, fashion photographer and art director has a richly surreal imagination and a dogged determination to turn the fantastical images in her head into reality. "I like to be innovative, to create things that haven't been seen before," she says. "Making something unique and unexpected is always challenging. It takes a lot of planning, big teams, complicated set designs. But if it's too easy, what's the point?"

For one shoot, she filmed a model on a specially-constructed two-metre-high plexiglass plinth. Eliška used a wind machine along with props such as scarves and colourful balls to build the exact atmosphere she was after. "There was one point where I was lying down under the plexiglass table, and you could see my reflection in shot, so I had to get someone to cover me with a black blanket and shoot from underneath it," she says. Working with the Canon EOS R5 she found the autofocus tracking made a huge difference. "It kept the focus really nicely on the model as she was moving. The 4K video capture and frame rate of the R5 were also great features as I was trying to get slow motion footage of the balls in the air."

Working on another campaign in January 2021, Eliška built a 6x6m swimming pool inside a studio. "It was unheated, on a concrete floor, and in the middle of winter. We only had two days, so we had to get the shots," she recalls. To make sure the models were comfortable, Eliška and her team ran back and forth boiling kettles and topping up the water. Another example of going to crazy lengths to get a shot was on an editorial shoot inspired by Picasso's blue period, when she laboriously painted all the models and the entire studio bright blue. "I'm inspired by everything around me," she says. "Literature, film, photography, everyday situations, even something as simple as light and shadow."

Rachel Segal Hamilton

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