Following Mo Farah’s final major track race last Saturday, renowned photographer Jamie Morgan shot his iconic portrait in collaboration with Nike and the team at Weiden + Kennedy London.
The 5,000m race held at Stratford Olympic Stadium was a huge marker in British sports. Although defeated for the gold medal, the Olympic champion came second and boasts an extremely successful career. “We knew that at the time of his last race, the public would look back and take stock on his overall contribution to our society and our progress in sport,” says Maisie Willoughby, art buyer at Weiden + Kennedy London. “Nike wanted to celebrate him in a way that has never been seen before.”
Maisie explains how the team behind his latest portraiture “were interested in going deeper this time”. Previous photography of Mo has resulted in two “familiar lights” — either shown with a friendly smile or at his peak of athleticism.
“We wanted to create the definitive portrait for this moment in time and depict him clearly as the true timeless British legend he is,” says Maisie. “Who better to shoot this historic portrait than the iconic Jamie Morgan? Jamie’s work of contemporary portraiture, inspired by classicism, completely communicates the powerful and timeless message we wanted to convey.”
Jamie is an acclaimed British photographer well-known for his work with Buffalo collective and groundbreaking modern fashion photography. When asked to shoot Mo’s portrait, Jamie was “delighted” at the prospect and wanted to “show a side to [his] character that went beyond the expected”. The resulting image is simple, defined and powerful and represents the characteristics and talent of both the athlete and photographer at hand. “My approach was to bring out a more contemplative and subtle aspect of Mo’s personality. I focused on Mo’s future and his position as a great British icon by elevating the imagery to reflect this,” Jamie tells It’s Nice That.
“I chose to simplify the shoot by using daylight (as opposed to studio) and working in black and white, stripping the imagery down and keeping the photograph honest and direct."
The custom-made reactive piece, which spans 25m x 10m, was revealed at the race last Saturday and is on display at Stratford Olympic Stadium.
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.