— TIME.com (@TIME) July 28, 2016
*Photographer Thomas Prior talks about the discipline and precision required to “create a tack-sharp photograph” of U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles for the cover of Time magazine’s new Olympics issue.
Inside Biles’ family gym in Houston, Prior tested his lights with a body double so they would freeze the three-time world all-around champion perfectly in midair, sculpting her idealized figure against his matte black backdrop.
“I thought I could do it in five minutes but it became apparent the trampoline is very hard to focus,” Prior tells Time, instead taking a full hour granted by Biles. “She drifts about a foot back and forward between poses.”
The final image chosen for the cover balances her elegant pose without looking strained. A glowing golden light accentuates her powerful muscles while preserving her grace.
Watch a featurette below: