Incredible UNL Basketball Portraits By Wyn Wiley
Alright, just when I thought he couldn’t do anything more amazing, he proves me wrong, way wrong. If you have seen any sort of sports portraits, they usually do something different then your normal portrait. Adding cool lighting effects, lots of post work ect, not Wyn. His story for this shoot is a must read and great advice for anyone wanting to blow away their competition in their town. The way Wyn went about getting this all organized, shot, and edited is a pure masterpiece.
Here is what Wyn had to say about this shoot:
“You only have a few chances in your photography career to prove who you are.
This was one of those opportunities. And I never thought it would include taping LED lights to a 7-foot, 314-pound basketball player.
If you’re willing to spend 15 minutes, YouTube can teach you just about anything you want to know about the light writing and lighting I did for this shoot. What’s more important however, is that I tell you how I turned this shoot from nothing into an epic opportunity.
Each year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers local news agencies a chance to shoot portraits of the basketball team. One of these news agencies is the Daily Nebraskan, a student-run newspaper at UNL. As a photographer for the paper, I was given the assignment.
On one of the practice courts, 20 other photographers and I set up our studio stations. We were allotted two hours to shoot 16 players. Because of the rotation set-up, we had less than 8 minutes per player which was an insanely short amount of time. Most of the other photographers asked each player to stand and look tough,. But, I wanted to avoid that. It’s a sort of motto in my life that If I’m going to do something, I’m going to give it my damn best effort to make it absolutely rad. I wanted to do something different with this shoot. Something new and something challenging.
So, light writing it was.
First, I had to find a way to win the players’ trust. After all, I hadn’t met any of them before and I wanted to tape freakin LED lights on their bodies so it was going to take some serious convincing. A few days before the shoot, I did test shots with a model. I had the test shots on my laptop and realizing I only had 8 minutes, I showed them to the players. Once the players saw how kick ass the final images would look, they were beyond stoked to shoot. They even gave me ideas for different jumps and poses they could do. Seeing these basketball giants getting schoolgirl giddy about photography was a pretty rad thing.
Eventually word spread my station was “dope as shit” to quote them directly. Soon, the players were coming my station to get as many shots as they could with me.
As I shot more, I quickly realized the 8-minute time limit per player was not going to get me the images I wanted. So, I got out my laptop again and made a spreadsheet of the players. My assistant entered their email addresses and phone numbers so that we could “be in contact” a.k.a. schedule more time to shoot. Of course, this was an advantage over the other photographers, and I’m sure the other news agencies hated me for it. But if the players wanted to shoot on their own time, then they could. And that’s what we did.
The following week, the players and I scheduled time to shoot at my studio, which allowed us time to straight up kill the images. It was also a HUGE shock to me that the players wanted to take extra time to shoot. Sometimes college athletes are seen as mean and tough with insanely busy schedules. So if this shoot did one thing, it made me believe in these guys and made me appreciate the players for giving their own time and effort to make the photos rad.
To say the least, this opportunity turned out to be an incredible one for me. I was given a blank slate and a chance to stand out. Here are some things I’ve learned from this experience and others in my photography career:
· If you can gain your client’s trust and help show them what the end product is going to be, they’re going to be a hell of a lot more excited to shoot.
Take risks in photography technically, but also with the people you’re shooting. Use your contacts; use your resources.
· Kick your personality into the mix. If you throw your energy into the shoot, the subject will throw energy back at you.
· If an opportunity doesn’t come knocking, make one yourself.”