We shot a series of portraits of a local soccer club and wanted to make them have the feeling of high-quality commercial sports photography. The club was already perfectly cast as this bunch of ruffians (who were some of the sweetest guys btw). Here’s the bonus: we also had an inside man in Adam 5100, one of the players who was a good friend, and artist and could pave the way by going first. Even better is that his girl friend is wardrobe stylist Anne Kunisaki and will prep the gents so they look the proper part.
So we had the benefit of people who were into the sport, play together and interested in some tough-looking images — there’s nothing quite like a motivated crowd. Stacey and I discussed how we could pull this off fairly easily, shooting around 13 guys (11 eventually came in) and a group shot in the studio but have it tie to an outdoor sport.
Something that immediately resonated with me was when I used to play soccer as a kid, sometimes the games would head into the night and we’d get a little light mist. It would look great if you stared up into the flood lights illuminating the field and you could imagine you were going into light speed (yes, I’m a child of Star Wars … as in when it first came out). I knew from our motion work that a simple set of small 9-lights would not only read as stadium lighting, and would provide a tough-looking lighting setup with double back rakes if placed on either side. A little front fill with a 5′ octobank strobe with 1/2 CTO (to bring the color temp closer to the 9-lights) and we have our sports lighting! A 20×20 solid for a backdrop would allow us to get the group shot and a bit of garden hose set to ‘mist’ adds in our particulate (highlighted by the 9-lights). Add in a streak filter to spread that light around and a few towels so the floor doesn’t get too slippery and we have our lighting and set!
The capper, was make up artist Jihyun Kim, one of who’s specialties is FX. So we had her come in and help push the ruffian story with cuts, bruises, stubble, missing teeth — all that good stuff. And a few bottles worth of glycerine to keep the guys in sweat while in front of the camera. This also helped the guys feel like they could push further in their characters that played for the camera. It anchored them in the idea and gave them the freedom of playing dress up to let go of any reticence. They all committed so well that if gave a plethora of looks to with no repetition.
Post involved picking out the best characters of their looks and pushing and pulling the lighting and contrast to provide that over polish in sports work. It grounds the gravity of the shot and contrasts such over-the-top faces providing balance — not too serious, not too goofy. Sprinkle in a little extra mist from the plates we shot (always shoot good plates for adding stuff in) and we could craft the image we were after. Stacey and I traded the post on these as we needed a couple of shots for a review I was heading to (and she’s wicked fast). I finally finished off the lot following her lead and synched the color and look (yea teamwork!).
Here’s a look at the behind the scenes which show the set, lighting and ladder with hose.