Gudvangen, Norway - 2023
I thought it would be playful to photograph Casper Ruud as a latter-day Viking raider. The Norwegian tennis star has fought his way to number four in the world tennis rankings and in so doing, made his small country of 5.4m people very proud. Norwegians are known for their mastery of winter sports - especially skiing - but success at tennis was unexpected, much like the early Viking expeditions to the West.
The setting for this photograph was the small community of Gudvangen in western Norway. I was attracted to the steepest of the fjord´s mountains which allowed me to frame the scene naturally and I knew that there was a ready supply of extras from the nearby faux Viking Village which attracts thousands of tourists every day. I would like to thank the owners of the Viking Village, Olav and Torill Hylland for agreeing to collaborate with me in this project.
We were fortunate that the weather was bleak and somewhat threatening; it gave the narrative a cohesive balance that would not perhaps work if we had a beautiful day. Casper took to his role with ease. He may be a charming man with a warm demeanour, but as we have seen on the tennis court, he is one hell of a fighter.