In this behind the scenes article, see how I set up my studio in the athletics office of my school and shot a series of intense portraits of my college football team.
A few months ago, the football team at Florida Atlantic University (my college) was ranked at the top of their division and was in the running for the Conference USA Bowl game. In effort to spread awareness of the team, I was approached by my college athletics marketing department, who asked me if I could capture 10 portraits of their top seniors to use as a marketing campaign for their social media platforms.
The brief was: in four hours, create 10 black and white portraits of our seniors against a white background. It had to be something simple and consistent.
The project was a perfect fit for me, and I was honored to do it. That night, I began doing the planning and pre-production. I knew I needed to shoot everything in uniformity and planned the gear I was bringing accordingly. I brought a setup that could be efficient and produce the same results consistently. I also kept in mind portability.
RoveLight Flashpoint 600B
To keep the results repeatable, once my lighting was set up, I couldn't significantly change it. My setup had to be versatile and account for everyone who stepped in front of my camera.
To start, I wanted to account for lighting my background and my subject at the same time. To accomplish this, I placed my key light 45 degrees camera right and put it two feet away from the subject. I also feathered the light so one side of the face was in shadow. The placement of the key light helped me not only light my subject, but also put some light on the background. When you have very limited space and resources, you have to make the most of whatever equipment you have. Additionally, to throw a hint more light and fill throughout the scene, I kept the ambient fluorescent lights on. Since I was shooting in black and white, the color cast from the ambient fill didn't have any effect on the final shots.
Lastly, to make the players separate from the background, I placed my speed light 45 degrees behind the subject and a little below eye level. This gave me a nice even kick on the side of the face. The light was also placed on the shadow side of the face. If the shadows were too dark, I placed a reflector to bounce a little more light into the scene.
The Final Results
To get these expressions, I asked everybody the same question: "What would winning the championship feel like?" Since this was the last game they were ever going to play for their college, I set out to capture those intense emotions that come with four years of blood, sweat, and tears.
Spoiler alert: They ended up winning and earning the Conference USA Championship.
Do you have any questions or comments on this shoot? Leave your thoughts below!