On Sunday 26th July, the Trippy Panther family descended on Tunbridge Wells from all over the south of England. Down from Oxford came Daniel and his dancers: Jordan and Joe. From Essex came Photographer Ben and the Stylist, Lucy. From Brighton came Writer Holly and from London came Joseph to model – all to congregate with the rest of the team in the sunny town of Tunbridge Wells. Why Tunbridge Wells? The home of CEO Danijela, Logo Artist Lindsay, Social Media Manager, Georgia, as well as the skaters Ronnie and Danny and model Eden, it boasts wicked locations for the Trippy Panther launch shoot.
7 am – We’re up! Following a few drinks with some of the team the night before, we could do without the early start on a Sunday, but the sun is out in full-force after a rainy Saturday and we’re excited. Holly and Georgia breeze through empty roads to Dani’s house, almost missing the chance of a hot coffee and a bottle of OJ because of a COVID-19 mask hunt!
9 am – After whizzing around Tunbridge Wells successfully collecting people, merch and coffees, we arrive at the skate park. A few boarders are warming up; skating up and down the banks and stretching arms and legs, covered in an assortment of bruises. It’s a super relaxed vibe - no one seems to care when they fall; in fact, stumbles accompany cheers. Ronnie introduces us to Gabby who’s getting a quick skate in before heading off to work.
10 am – Enter our Photographer, Ben and the Stylist, Lucy. With a stack of kit to rival the boxes of merch, Ben and Lucy test the light, reflections and frames. They take candid shots of Gabby, Lindsay, Danny and Ronnie skating around and someone’s put music on in the background. The gorgeous couple Eden and Joseph cuddle up in their Trippy Panther hoodies; ‘Get the cuddle photo!’ calls Ben as he approaches the pair, camera at the ready. Lucy manoeuvres the reflector highlighting the couple’s already-stellar features. To the backdrop of gentle instructions: ‘Tip your head back…put your hands there…hold her there’ we hear the click, click, click of the shutters.
11 am – By mid-morning, groups of kids are riding their scooters around the park. As confident as our pro-skaters, they’re fearless and eager to keep up; Ben does a great job keeping the kids out of the frames. Everyone’s having a great time, poor Gabby doesn’t want to go to work and then Rowenne turns up, personifying the whole Trippy Panther brand. With all the skaters and models in branded T-shirts and hoodies, there’s definitely a sense of a skate park takeover. It’s only a shame the video recordings on our phones don’t do the atmosphere justice: laughs and hip-hop music in the background and the rise and fall of wheels navigating the half-pipe. We’re not all boarders, and the guys and girls make it look effortless. Pro-skater Danny barely stops to demolish a banana, ‘I need some natural energy,’ he quips and Lindsay calls, ‘Hold it the other way up!’ when Eden strikes a pose with his board. ‘Can’t you tell I’m a skater?!’ replies Eden, to a roar of laughter from the team.
Before lunch, there’s enough time for some smouldering (albeit sweaty) headshots. Squinting in the sun accompanies brow-wiping and yet, Ben captures some gorgeous profiles.
12 pm – We’re fed by one of Tunbridge Wells’ most resilient cafés, The Zero Waste Company. Having re-opened when most of the town’s cafés stayed firmly shut as COVID-lockdown began to ease, they (almost) single-handedly fed the town oat-milk cappuccinos and sorbets during those trying months. Today, we have wraps and paninis to feed the 5,000, bursting with tomatoes, avocados, jackfruit and more.
1:30 pm – Bundling equipment, merch, left-over lunch and people in cars, we arrive at Kings Tattoo Shop in the heart of Tunbridge Wells. Black and gold interiors adorn the shop which is covered floor-to-ceiling in the residents’ and guests’ artwork. Transfer designs are stuck to the ceiling and it’s clear this is a place rooted in traditional tattoo art.
Never one to do things by halves, Dani and Lindsay decide the only way they’ll get an honest shot of Lindsay at work is if he gives a real tattoo. There’s clearly trust between this pair as Dani confidently allows Lindsay to pick a design she’ll have with her for life. As Lindsay prepares his station, the dancers turn up at the shop. Choreographer Daniel has bought two friends along with him for this shoot; Jordan and Joe. After some much-needed lunch following their drive from Oxford, they don Trippy Panther T-shirts and then Lindsay is ready.
2 pm - It doesn’t take long, Dani says it doesn’t hurt and Ben’s right in on the action snapping away – he’s already filled a 64GB memory stick! A quick back-up to the laptop and he’s ready to go again. With Dani’s arm all wrapped up, she and Lindsay are right behind Ben and Lucy checking out the shots.
3 pm – Just like the skate park, Kings is full of energy; just this time the hip-hop has been swapped with liquid drum and bass. No one seems to mind we’re working on a Sunday as everyone’s having such a fun time shooting for a brand we love and believe in. Ben’s camera flashes all over the shop as the dancers effortlessly model Trippy Panther T-shirts and hoodies. It’s a credit to Dani that she’s brought this awesome group together and between the cracks of her loud laugh she’s heard checking in on everyone: ‘Do you want another sandwich?’ and ‘Have you got enough water?’
4 pm – On the edge of Tunbridge Wells, on the border to Frant lies Hargate Forest. Over 150 acres of medieval forest is the perfect place to round up the day. Under the dappled shade, we trek across the pine-littered floor relieved the sun has dried the ground. In a small clearing, Ben spots a beautiful location with the sun flooding down from a gap through the trees. Lucy experiments with the reflector, avoiding the models’ eyes whilst creating spotlit light for Ben.
We get lost in the forest; we can’t quite remember the route to the pine-clearing, but after a scramble up a short, obscenely-steep hill, we’ve made it. With the dancers’ music blasting from a portable speaker, they begin freestyling as Ben captures the action. Watching them move is mesmerising. Our phones are out, filming the guys as they do their thing in black and pink Trippy Panther hoodies. Loose pine and forest floor can’t be easy to dance on, but Daniel, Joe and Jordan don’t give it away – if anything, the roughing up of the ground adds to the atmosphere.
5 pm – A few more headshots, loads more water and it’s a wrap. Whoops and cheers all around, it’s evident we’ve all had a brilliant time. Heading back to the cars, a little slower than this morning, we’re all buzzing with exhaustion. Ben and Lucy give the dancers a lift to the station - who return to Oxford - before heading back to Essex themselves. Lindsay journeys back to Kings Tattoo Shop and Holly, Georgia and Dani debrief with a drink in the pub.
What a way to kickstart this incredible new brand! When your work family is made up of a group of people like this, it’s clear the company is going to make an impact. The Trippy Panther family might not have slept as well as you’d think on Sunday night; we were all eager to launch the very next day.