Big Pictures Goes Under Water with Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte Re-creates Nirvana Album Cover The first time I heard Nirvana’s Nevermind album from start to finish, I was driving to a location scout in Southern California for an Isuzu Rodeo commercial. You may remember the campaign – directed by Barry Sonnenfeld – where the kids refuse to stay between the lines in class, and later on the road in their mud-eating Rodeos.

Ryan Lochte was about eight years old at that time, and probably already wreaking havoc between the lines of every swimming pool he entered.

Flash forward twenty-two years, and I find myself in a pool with the eleven time Olympic medalist Lochte and still photographer Matthias Clamer re-creating that iconic Nevermind album cover for ESPN Magazine’s – the Music Issue.

For this issue, they convinced fourteen athletes to recreate some of the most memorable album covers ever – including Allyson Felix as Beyonce, Josh Freeman as Michael Jackson, and Ryan Lochte as the now famous baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind album.

Instead of the baby, now it’s Lochte reaching for that dollar bill.

And unlike the baby, Lochte is sporting a Speedo.

Trevor Nordeen and I shot the surface interviews and b-roll with the Panasonic HDX900 camera,  augmenting the available pool lighting with daylight balanced Kino Flos. For the pool and underwater footage, we shot with a 5D MRK II in an Aquatica housing flown in from A B Sea Photo in California.

Tom Miller filming Ryan Lochte

The shoot went very well, and Lochte and the team were great to work with. I was most impressed with his ability to lie on the bottom of the pool and send water rings towards the camera.

Ironically, Lochte hadn’t really heard of Nevermind, but was certainly game for the re-creation. And as he mentions in the interview, he very much related to the happy baby in the pool – swimming, and reaching for that almighty dollar.

Check out our work here:

ESPN The Mag: Ryan Lochte's Nirvana Tribute

ESPN Magazine - Music Issue

And if you're curious, here's one of those old Isuzu spots:

Isuzu Rodeo - Commercial from 1992


Production Team: ESPN Producers Stacey Pressman and Stevland Wilson, Director of Photography Tom Miller, Sound Mixer Trevor Nordeen, Still Photographer Matthias Clamer and his team


Written by Tom Miller, © Big Pictures Media, Inc. 2013, Photos by Matthias Clamer & Trevor Nordeen