[Contest Submission] Dramatic Portraits Of The University Of Indiana's Track And Field Team

There are just less than 7 weeks left to submit your behind the scenes contest video. Submissions are starting to come in and it's amazing what our readers are doing through their photography. As the video submissions come in we are going to feature the standouts here on the front of Fstoppers. In Zach Hetrick's behind the scenes video, he shows how he created commercial sports portraits of The Hoosiers's track and field team. Zach takes some time at the beginning to talk a bit about the lighting setup he used and shows how you can give your group shots a punch with some nice light thanks to a few Alien Bee monoblocks. Leave your comments below if you have any questions about this shoot or simply want to give some friendly support to Zach. You can check out all the entries on the BTS Contest Forum Thread, and remember to get your submissions in early so we can share your work on the front of the site.

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Nice, but i would have liked to see a stop more of the ambient light, maybe just enough to make out the seating stands.

Thanks for the feedback. I get where your coming from with a requested extra stop. I lucked out and got a pretty amazing sky so I tried to use that to it's fullest. I find that the background, especially the sky, always sets the tone in these Sportraits. Thanks again. -Zach

Love the manner in which this video informed the viewer. And I love the vibe he created, not only in the shoot but in the viewing; cool song choice. Awesome tutorial and a lesson on how to make one simply and effectively.

love the side light.... and the J Dilla shout out in the song

I agree, a stop or two more of ambient light would have made them WAY stronger photos. The lights even looked a little too hot for my liking on many of the shots, I saw lots of blown highlights on their skin. 

Great shots! I actually like the moodiness of the dark sky with that dramatic lighting. It really makes the subject pop. I do have a question about how you were able to obtain permission to use the images on blogs and sites since they are NCAA athletes. I have been working with a big division 1 school this year and have been told by the university's compliance department that I can't use any of the images for my site/blog/anything promotional for my self or any other business until the students photographed have graduated. Have you had any of the same issues to work around from your shoots with this university?

Thanks. As for compliance, Good Luck. If you read the NCAA compliance handbook (It is about as long as a Harry Potter book and not nearly as magical) you will not find much that relates to photographers specifically. The rule that they are referring to forbids current athletes likeness or image to be used to promote a business. So a runner's picture at a running store would constitute an endorsement. However, in photography the image is the product. The question becomes is the image of an athlete an endorsement of the photographer, or simply a photographer showing work? Compliance tends to cast a wide net when dealing with this, often taking the more cautious road. I would challenge them by asking about the rule and their interpretation. For example show PRM of Sports Illustrated's BTS with Andrew Luck and countless other examples. Simply put the athlete is not endorsing the photographer. Ironically the only language in the guidebook that refers directly to our industry is that photographers are allowed to sell images of athletes to parents. As in it is okay to directly profit off of their images.... Let the firestorm begin

Thank you so much! You gave me a lot of great information and I really appreciate you taking the time to share you knowledge with me on this subject. Ha! if their compliance handbook read like a Harry Potter novel I would be an expert on it. Thank you again for the NCAA compliance breakdown, very insightful.

Zack Williamson's picture

As an aspiring photographer and D1 athlete myself, I can attest to the ridiculous nature of NCAA compliance. As far as I know, if you photograph and athlete, you can't pay that athlete as a model, that would invalidate amateurism. Depending on the state, you might be able to get away with it if you claim the photos as "fine art"; I think most state laws protect photographers in that regard. I know my university has a "compliance officer", someone whose sole job is to serve as an expert on NCAA compliance and what is or is not allowed. So what I think Zach has pointed out is that as long as the athlete isn't endorsing a brand then you can use their image. In the case of promoting the university, you should be covered to show the images on your site as a demonstration of work. But again check with the compliance officer.

I will ask, when in doubt, please please check with either the University or the NCAA Compliance office. The rules are really strict and the fines levied against the athletes are insane. I'm sure there is paperwork that can allow you to showcase the images, just ask around.

Thanks Zack! I appreciate your perspective as both an athlete and photographer. I have been very respectful to my contact at the University who said I couldn't use the photos till the athletes graduated and won't do so without her ok. But I now plan on revisiting the discussion of posting some work on my site at our next shoot and see if we can come to an understanding that will work for me and the school. I would never do anything to jeopardize the student athletes or my connections with the school. Thanks again for your input on NCAA compliance.

Zack Williamson's picture

I actually had a compliance meeting last night and I asked for an interpretation on my end as well. When I hear more, I'll let you know how the CAA has weighed in on the topic.

Super! Thanks so much Zack W.!!! I would love to hear what you find out :)

James Tarry's picture

so easy for people to come out and say "shouldve done a stop here or this and that". If youve captured the image you wanted in your head then thats that. Personally i like the images alot-and portrait stuff doesnt really float me boat most of the time.

@twitter-241898372:disqus I agree that it can be frustrating when too many people give their two cents but hey, aren't we all here to grow as photographers? They made some valid points above regarding the photos. If all you do is "capture the images you wanted then that's that" then you will never grow as an artist.
I'm sure, next time Zach will shoot with a bit more ambient and turn down the strobes a tad and the results will be even better. IT'S UNFOUNDED CRITICISM THAT SUCKS, NOT CONSTRUCTIVE.
Keep hustlin' Zach!

Zack Williamson's picture

Hm, I was thinking about doing something similar to this with my team...maybe I'll put a video together of how to do it on the super cheap.

Love them! Good work Zack

Hmmmm...might I have to pick up a ring light from Paul Buff. Nice work Zack! Shout out to J.Dilla!

hey, in the beginning you said you "might" do the group pictures as a composite...is that what you did? Or what exactly did you mean with that comment? Thanks :) Great shots!!