Mark Zibert: Impossible Is Nothing
Those who walk on the unbeaten path are often the ones who break through greatness. Mark Zibert, a photographer from Toronto, Canada, who walks to the beat of his own drum has surpassed expectations. His first major opportunity, which occurred at the mere age of 23, was his national campaign for Nike. Since that successful project, Zibert expanded his clientele list and became a Commercial Director who began working with editorial and advertising agencies on a more global level.
Taking what he learned about photography from Sheridan College, Zibert landed the biggest campaign of his career in 2007. Anyone would have given their left limb to receive the opportunity to work with the Olympic advertising campaign but in 2008 Zibert got his chance. The photographer spent three months in China shooting the nation’s top athletes for what is considered to be the biggest advertising campaign in Adidas history. Working whole heartedly on the Beijing Olympics 2008 “Together in 2008, Impossible is Nothing” campaign, Zibert completely threw himself into making this project perfect. “You have to stand out. If you’re trying to emulate or grab someone’s look, you’re blending in. Make your work better than what is out there, literally,” stated the photographer.
The Adidas campaign was a challenge before Zibert even landed the contract. Since Adidas co-sponsored the 2008 Beijing Olympics the campaign was huge to start off with. Five photographers including Zibert all submitted their vision in hopes of bagging the campaign. After months of deliberating, 180/TBWA, the advertising agency in charge of the 2008 Olympics, granted the opportunity to Zibert. He had just completed an assignment for Nike, when he received the call. “We ended up leaving the next day for China for three months to shoot this campaign,” said Zibert. The initial idea was to show how thousands of people could come together to support one player to achieve one goal. For this effect, the agency had planned on hiring an illustrator to digitally create the crowd once the pictures of the athletes were taken but Zibert insisted he would shoot the crowd sequence himself. Zibert went on to hire 300 extras to shoot in an empty soccer stadium in Peking, China. After a grueling two-day process, Zibert merged the photographs of the 300 extras and created the background of a sea of people.
The campaign was an instant success. One photograph shows a tower of hundreds of people holding on to a basketball hoop while a Chinese basketball player makes a slam-dunk. Another shows a crowd lending a sea of arms so that a footballer can score a touchdown. Both photographs show how a group of people can come together to achieve a goal. The campaign left everyone wondering how the photographer managed to capture so many people and make it look so effortless. The campaign won China it’s first Cannes Gold Lion and also won Photography Campaign of the Year and Best Print Advertising Campaign at the Lucie Awards.
Aside from mastering still photographs, Zibert also enjoys directing commercials. His strong attention to detail helps Zibert create masterpieces on film as well as still shots. “I’ve definitely been a lot more involved in motion productions lately. It’s a completely different set of challenges, and inspiring in a different sense than stills. I see myself, hopefully, moving onto larger motion projects, but I will always continue to shoot stills,” stated Zibert. Aside from making a name for himself in the photography field, he also works with Right to Play, a humanitarian organization that is committed to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and their communities across the world. For the past few years, Zibert has traveled to Africa to shoot documentaries for various non-government organizations that work to improve the lives of refugees and young people at risk or orphaned by HIV/AIDS. “I met people associated with Right to Play, the first time I went to Tanzania, and then a year later I went to Rwanda, Uganda and Sierra Leone. Through those trips I also got contacts and some other assignments. Basically, it is personal work but they get rights to the images and they can use it for all their fundraising and promotions activities,” stated the artist.
Zibert’s images are creatively driven which makes his images and commercials appealing to the audience. With the motto to always make his work flawless and to always understand his clientele, Zibert will continue to grow as an artist creating masterpieces. “It is an honor to become a part of so many great campaigns,” he said. “But my priority is to focus and continue honing my skills and approach.” Not only has this photographer created breathtaking images but he also ran a production house called Method Inc. to help other photographers build their portfolios. Splitting his time between New York and his hometown of Toronto, Zibert continues to create pieces that are larger than life and equally simplistic.