Cindy Crawford, John McEnroe, Jack Nicklaus…Youre renowned for setting your subjects in creative settings reflective of their characters and experiences. Why did you choose to set Mikaela in Norway with a polar explorer’s vibe?

Well, it was simply pragmatic because she dates the famous Norwegian skier Aleksander Kilde and they often spend the summer training together in Norway. We have strong ties in Norway and it’s so close to my home in the UK. As soon as we had their commitment, I then had to think of a theme and this struck me as both fun and apposite given Norway’s heritage in exploration. We also have a gallery in Oslo and I took counsel from them as to what would elicit excitement from the local community. We don’t want to take pictures that bore people or are a little bland.

I can only show, not tell” is your adage. What do your images show us about Mikaela?

I think they show that she can be human and playful. I like to demystify people and try not to be too earnest in my shoots. I just want to be authentic and original. I know that she can handle the cold and is tough, but she is also striking and graceful. Historically, femininity and fortitude have not been thrown together by artists, but that has rightly changed. Women are just as tough as men – if not tougher – and that does not impinge on their sexuality. In fact, it amplifies it.

Youve said you are an emotional person, quick to cry at football matches. Did your time with Mikaela and Aleksander produce any high-emotion moments for you?

I guess I was just so pleased to see the warmth between both Mikaela and Aleksander and the local Norwegians. That made me happy to know that they are good and kind people, irrespective of their fame.

Do you see Mikaela as a symbol of the American dream?

Yes, she is an inspiration to millions of young American skiers. She has achieved her success through a relentless pursuit of excellence. Ultimately her dream has been fulfilled by a commitment to work ethic and that is also the story of the American dream: work hard and everything is possible. I sense with Mikaela that she has very much kept her character and that fame has not affected her in that way.

Is her pursuit of speed and technique as noble an achievement as exploration and discovery?

That’s tricky. Not everyone has the resources to be an explorer in the modern era, whereas Mikaela lives in a world where she competes against everyone. To be the best is a huge achievement. But I think the explorers of 100 years ago were single-minded to an extreme. They made sacrifices that even Mikaela would not make and I think that is to her credit. She seems very balanced.


BTS photos by Cameron Yarrow