I don’t make a habit (or a business!) of doing school and/or team photos for several reasons. The most significant is that there are a lot of companies out there who do this (some of them even do it well!), and I have no interest in competing with them. It’s a colossal organizational challenge, and those of you who know me…well, let’s just say I’m an artist.
But all that matters naught when my own child is participating. Then I pull out all the stops and do what I do, in a way I’d like to think is pretty unique. I love experimenting with lighting people, and this year, my son Sam’s high school basketball program asked me to repeat my (apparently) successful turn at shooting the team’s portraits.
The school’s color is red, so I wanted to emphasize that color in a stylized set of portraits. I am a fan of quite a few people who do this on a world-class level, yet many of their techniques require considerable amounts of pre- and post-production work, and that wasn’t going to work for upwards of 50 individual and team photos for the three boys’ basketball teams. Sam’s school gym was just remodeled, and when I walked in, I saw what looked (to my strange eye) like a large, red, reptilian wall. And there was born my inspiration. I quickly rigged up a “studio” in the gym (and by quickly I mean 30 minutes from loading in my gear to being ready to shoot). My setup was simple, in a way. Three lights (two with deep red gels and one softbox) and that’s it. I shot these with the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Canon EF 24-70/2.8 L lens. I triggered one Alien Bees flash with a pair of Pocket Wizards, and that flash triggered the other two Alien Bees by virtue of their built-in optical slaves. Lastly, I imported the RAW CR2 files into Aperture 3.1, and applied quite a few adjustments to get the “look”. I was after. The timeline:
- 8:00 AM: arrive at my studio and load out my gear
- 9:00 AM: load-in to gym
- 9:30 AM: “set” constructed and ready to shoot
- 10:15 AM: commenced shooting
- 11:30 AM: photos completed for Freshman, Frosh/Soph and Varsity teams
- 11:45 AM: load out
- 12:30 AM: gear stashed at my studio
- (lunch and a little black friday shopping!)
- 2:00 PM: downloaded photos into Aperture and begin edits
- 3:00 PM: all edits complete (mostly batch operations)
- 3:30 PM: completed low-res, watermarked photos all posted on Flickr and Facebook
Here’s what the setup looked like, followed by a few of the actual photos. The entire set are posted in a Flickr set if you’d care to look…