Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich

Lesson 34/50 - Getting the First Action Shot: BMX


Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich


Lesson Info

Getting the First Action Shot: BMX

I think this elevated angle cleans up the background. And I don't even need the hood. I'll take it, though. Does it feel like, we'll see if we can do this tethered. There we go, that's perfect. That's the first time we've used our cart on a pitch. Okay, Cory, when you're ready, let's give it another go. (camera clicking) Awesome, that looks great. Oh, that's really sweet. I'm gonna try to isolate. That looks good. You guys like that angle? I bet that's even better, just being. Okay, Cory, when you're ready, let's do it. (camera clicking) Great, so one thing that I'm being really conscious of, even though we're at Woodward, and Woodward's being super supportive, I'm not crazy about that W and the exit sign in the background. So I'm actually framing down, so that I'm just at the edge. I'm just isolating, I want this black wall, and some of these yellow lines. Now I'm exposing for the highlights. I'm opening up slightly, I'm probably a stop brighter than the highlights. And so really, I'm...

trying to capitalize on, this image is about Cory being off the ground, doing the bar spin, I think is what it's called, with his shadow right in that rectangle. Which is really, really cool. So let's see, yeah, okay. So the frame that you're seeing online now, I think this is as close to successful as I've done thus far. So by controlling the exposure, I'm exposing for those highlights, we're getting a nice rim light on Cory, he's almost isolated in that rectangle. That's looking pretty good. Hey, Cory, check this out if you want, on the computer, and see if, uh, we did this yesterday with Dylan and with Cody. But getting Cory's feedback about what's working or not working is super helpful. Oh, I dig it, yeah. Cool. And I feel like I'm a little off on that frame. Go forward one, Bly. Yeah, right there, that's kinda nice, where you're totally isolated. This part, so what we got here, the framing of the shadow is brilliant. The timing of the bar spin is what we gotta work on. So we can do some more, I'll start earlier. That way the bars are backwards in the shadow. That's great, let's give it a few burns, and I'll try to stay in focus. Yeah. Capturing that moment. If we're workin' together, tryin' to figure out the best place. Cool. That looks good. We're workin' together on the shadow, tryin' to figure out the best place to come from, so if we just aim for the little bit in the corner of the shadows. Cool, great. Let's give it a couple more passes, and then we'll switch it up and try something new. And I think the idea, if you're watching from home, it just takes trying it over and over. I like to create the illusion that I do it in the first burst of images, but it turns out it almost never works that way. It's always shooting over and over. Okay. (camera clicking) Great, okay, and I know I let the Woodward W pop into the frame, but it's so dark back there that we're really not even seeing it. So, okay, I'm not sure if we got the better handlebar position. Let's give it one more go, Cory. Yeah. And right now I'm just pre-focusing. (camera clicking) Okay, there's no focus change. I'm at 50 millimeters, f4, I have plenty of depth of field. When I'm this far away from my subject I'm almost at infinity. How was that landing, okay? Boom. Cool, was that last frame? Go back one. That's it. Cool, sweet. I mean, we can-- We can define a little more, like-- Yeah, let's do one last one and then we'll switch it up. We'll try something new. That looks great, Cory. Here's to natural light. And I'ma frame this one a little differently. Alright? (camera clicks) Yep, let's do it. (camera clicking) Okay, now you can see there I made Cory smaller in the frame, and just put more black space around him. And sometimes providing dead space for your editors or your client, you know Red Bull might want this picture in the content pool for dropping text in, because they're gonna advertise in a speaking engagement with Cory. So I'm just giving visual diversity here. Cool, that's great. That's the one. Awesome, alright, so, and again, in the reality I would work this situation more. I'd try 12 different locations, I'd go up high, I'd go down low, and keep on taking advantage of this light. But let's try something on this hump. I think that's pretty cool looking. Let me, I'll roll over it a couple times. Great. And see which-- Cool. Most likely 'cause the sun's this direction, it's gonna be best, so. Great, and I'll kind of watch and then make a decision about where I want to be to shoot. I know it's not gonna be right here, just given there's this some stuff in the foreground. (camera clicking) Okay, so that's gonna be tricky because he's not really in the light there. How about that way? Yeah, that way the light pool, it comes off the top of it. Yeah, let's see what he's got. And it's really helpful, I'll say, to work with an athlete like Cory that's been around cameras so much. He understands the challenge. I'll come over there. Cool. Yeah, so after ridin' around on the hump a little bit, it looks like the lighting isn't particularly in the right spot to getting the photograph you want with the shadows. Sure, sure. That would probably be more like a strobe setup. Yep, cool. And I think what's happening here is really important to point out. Cory's been around enough cameras, he understands what works and what doesn't work here. I saw it immediately as he went over the hump. I said oh, he's outta the light. Like, the hump's in the light, there's a big highlight, he's not in it. And making the call and just saying cool, this doesn't work right now, just saved us an hour. Because banging your head against a wall to make a picture that doesn't exist doesn't make sense. So instead, we're just gonna switch gears and figure out what's possible.

Class Description

Being an action sports photographer is about more than getting freeze frames of famous athletes. It’s about documenting the experience of people for whom the line between passion and work is blurred. At his or her best, the action photographer tells compelling stories that show us at our most daring, fearless, and adventurous.

Corey Rich is one of the world's leading outdoor adventure and action sports photographers, adept at distilling the essence of extreme action sports and adventure travel and lifestyle.  In addition to documenting extreme sports for Red Bull, Corey has worked for many of the biggest brands in the world.  This is your opportunity to follow Corey as he prepares for a shoot on location, and learn how he evokes powerful brand stories like those he has made for Red Bull. 

Join us for this live class, and you will learn:

  • How to work with a client, and shoot with their brand in mind
  • How to prepare yourself and your gear for a shoot in an extreme environment
  • How to take photos of extreme sports pros, and work with variable light conditions

This class will stream live from the location of the shoot in Lake Tahoe. Corey will be shooting Red Bull athletes as they perform at Ski Mountain Terrain Park and at a nearby BMX park. There will also be a live session from a Tahoe cabin to discuss photo theory and Corey’s experience of building his photo practice and working for Red Bull. 


1Class Introduction 2What Makes A Great Action Photo 3Conceptualize the Shoot 4Research Location / Wardrobe / Props for Action Shoot 5Safety Tips for Action Photographers 6What Gear Do I Need? Packing and Prep 7Workflow and Asset Management 8Ingesting and Organizing Files 9Editing Down Your Selects 10Post Processing Overview 11Working with Clients to Select Finals 12Retouching & Post Processing: Image 1 13Retouching & Post Processing: Image 2 14Retouching & Post Processing: Image 3 15Final Client Delivery 16Introduction to Snow Athletes 17Setting up the Shot: Using Natural Light 18Getting that First Action Shot: Snow Park 19Scouting Location for Action Shot: Snow Park 20Capturing Variation of Snow Park Action Shot 21Refining the Snow Park Action Shot 22Action Shot with Strobes Overview 23Shoot: Action Shot with Strobes 24How to Light Using Strobes 25Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes 26Refining the Snow Park Action Shoot: Using Strobes 27Capturing Variation with Snow Park Athletes 28Capturing Portraits: Snowboarder 29Capturing Portrait: Skier 30Shoot: Feature Jump Action Shot Afternoon Natural Light 31Introduction to Today's Shoot 32Building a Rapport with the Athlete: BMX Rider 33Scouting Location for Action Shot: Indoor BMX Park & Natural Light 34Getting the First Action Shot: BMX 35Conceptualizing the Action Shot: BMX 36Prepping Gear & Refining the Action Shot: BMX 37Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Natural Light 38Setting up Remote Cameras 39Capturing BMX Action Shots: Remote Cameras 40Conceptualizing the Shot: Using Strobes in Indoor BMX Park 41Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park 42Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Strobes 43Capturing Variations of BMX Athlete 44Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider 45Directing an Athlete Portrait: Indoors 46Lighting a Portrait: Indoor BMX Athlete 47Portrait Demo: Indoors BMX Athlete 48Portrait Demo: Adding Atmosphere 49Transmitting Live from the Field 50Panel Q&A


a Creativelive Student

If you're looking to learn from one of the greats of action photography who also happens to be an incredible instructor, look no further! Corey Rich and his fantastic team will show you every facet of being a great action photographer and they share all of their insights from A to Z. Their instruction is heartfelt and they laid it all out there for everyone's benefit. A huge thank you to Creative Live and Red Bull Photography for bringing this to the world. This is a must have class in your library!


One of the best photographic purchases I've made. Big fan of Corey Rich's work and getting a behind the scenes look at how he works and thinks was thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Corey and the others also provided a great amount of insight into the business world behind action sports photography.