Photographing Athletic Portraits

 

Lesson Info

Shoot: Six & Seven Light Athletic Portrait

The lighting in the front, you can light 'em any way you want. I like to light with that light on the top and then this one, I originally had it with this light stand, but I am gonna go to how I love lighting, on the front, which is literally up-lighting him for this one. So, when he gets back in there, I'm just gonna set this one up in place. No, it's perfect. Let's see if that works. So, go back here. So, kinda go, move this way a little bit so this light's on you. There you go. Take a tiny step forward. There you go. Perfect. Another thing I could do, if we're gonna bounce for that, is get the light closer to him and tilt it more down. And that should work because we might get a little spill from this, but I don't think we were getting any spill from this before when we did the test, but we'll see. Let me get this out of the way. Does that one have a pocket wizard? Yeah, hold on. I'm gonna turn this one off since you put that black on there. We'll see if that did anything. So le...

t's break it up. So, just this one's going off. Let's see. No, it's still, I think this is still getting a little bit of light, so you know what? Bring them closer? Yeah, let's bring it closer and kinda more straight down on him. Ah, let me see if I can feather it down a little bit, yeah. There you go, right here. Yeah I don't think it's that light the middle light, but here you go. And hopefully it should be pretty stark on this light, keep right here. Let's see how it looks. There we go now we got it. So if you look there's no bounce at all on the next one. It's completely dark here and there but let's see. This one's gonna be brighter. Yeah it's a little bit darker there. So now we're just gonna add the other light that I like. I actually like that how that looks. Looks really cool. So actually if you wanna go here, you go this one, and add the rim lights. You actually have a cool light, actual set up right here which is pretty cool. Which that's a set up in itself. So go ahead and actually do the pose that you were saying, the what is it the one, the laugh that you have. Let's see it yeah. Make sure, this is kinda your light right here, so make sure you kinda stay whatever you do, that this is hitting you. Lets see it. Go for it, keep it like that. Excellent just like that. Perfect. Great. So we got that here. That looks great like that, like that. We're getting a little bit of this boom here. But that is fine. We could adjust this right here. Yeah, could you move it a little bit and then I'll add the other light to it. But let me add the final light to it, that actually looks really really nice. I like how it looks. And then, once you adjust that one I'll add this one to it. Any questions so far, while we're waiting for these adjustments? Yeah. Yeah, we've got a few coming through from home, first of all just, these the umbrellas, are they white on the inside or silver on the inside? I believe they're silver. They're white? That was, let's see It's satin. That was from They're like in between both. That was from Christine. It's kind of like a satin finish. Satin finish, thank you. It doesn't matter much because I'm just having them light the background, and the background is kinda matte so it's not gonna get affected that much. Cool thank you. Yeah. You just get the mic. At what point do you start thinking about the final crop ratio of the photo that you need to take? Say it again? At what point do you start thinking about the crop ratio for the photo that you need to take? Like what do you mean, for? So where're you gonna crop this on, on this photo? Like is it a 4x5, Oh yeah, depends who I'm shooting for. I usually, rule of thumb especially if you could afford the megapixels, like a 51, you wanna shoot loose, but when it's like an all black background or like an all white background you could expand that easy. But anytime you're shooting for a magazine or art director you wanna shoot loose, because this shoots 2x and all magazines are 8.5x which is almost 4x5 and if you shoot anything 2x in camera that's perfect you're not gonna have a happy art director because you're gonna cut stuff off. So, general rule of thumb is I'd rather shoot loose, a little bit loose, than getting the crop right in camera. Cuz like in your format, on, depending on what your final output is, that kinda determines everything. And that's one of the reasons why I actually still whenever I can I shoot film because, a Hasselblad has a square format, so it's like a really really tiny minute thing, but it's one less thing you have to worry about, vertical horizontal, you can just shoot everything square. And I know a lot of manufacturers say, oh, you could just shoot this square and stuff like that, no because the big reason why, I shoot medium format is not cuz of the film, it's because of the physical characteristics of those lenses. Like a Hasselblad 40mm cfi lens is gonna give you different distortions and different visual characteristics than a 35 mm you know, 24 mm lens. And that's one of the, I'm like really stickler for that, when they're like shoot for lenses specifically I want those and I want them full frame. Because that's what you pay all that money for, like right? The reason you buy 85 one two, right, is because it's visual characteristic flaws are very beautiful and open, right. You're paying all that money it would be a complete waste for me to shoot with that lens if I'm shooting it at F11 or F16, right cuz it's not gonna look any different in this one at 85. So we got that one here. So we got a little bit of room, so. See how that is. We'll do a quick test, on there. Right here let's see it. So we're now at A, actually let's just go with A. It went back to lighting the background a little bit, so. Yeah just get it closer to him, and then move it down and I'll dial the light. Or you know what? I could just tilt it down like this? Twist it down, yeah, I was gonna do it from here. Ready? Yup. And take a step forward? Keep going forward. There you go right there. Locked. There you go. And then the rim lights should still be hittin him. But here you go. Now he should be completely and dark, there you go. This is kinda what you want right here. If you look right here, this is gonna be completely in dark. So if you look right here now he's gonna have rim lights. There you go, aw this is perfect, keep your hand, I'm just gonna add my final light in the front and we'll have the full set up right here. The only difference that I had with the women's team is cuz we had a, more grip gear and there wasn't so much stuff here, and we had a boom, we had a third rim light, so it was rim lights all the way around on the side, and on the hair light right here and you could get just real specific for that. And then one of the reasons why I love up-lighting here like this is two fold. You're on the, you're on the Am I really? Turn it on? Cuz I turned it off. Yeah Is two reasons. Because number one I do love up lighting, it's gonna bring out his physique really nice and throw highlights where you usually see shadows, but number two, when you highlight up like this, it's not gonna hit the background. What channel? They're all in 17 I believe. No, A. A. Yup. So we have this right here. And the great thing about the D2's is that you can stand 'em up right here but what I'm looking at right now is literally I'm looking at the bottom of the light cuz I love light fall off a lot and I'm gonna shoot him and you can see the light fall off right here, right below his sweats, and it's gonna go into dark and fall off really really nice and beautiful and we're lighting him here. I'm gonna probably just tweak this a little bit. Cuz he's right here on the spot. Let me move this right here. There you go that's good. So keep right there. All right this is looking really really great. And let me make sure they go off. I didn't check the settings in the power on this camera but I'm gonna go back here. Let's see. Yup that looks right on the money, that looks really good that's how I like it. Right here let's just show up. And we have it right here. We're getting, it should be a little bit darker in the background. If we had a, a gray seamless, it would go darker a lot easier than white because white reflects a lot more light, but you can kinda get the idea right here, this is dark enough so let's just go through the whole setup right here. So this is all, three, all three groups going off the background light, the two fronts, and the two rim lights, and this is kinda like the first one that we have right here. Keep, look right here. So it looks different. So this is how it looks with all the lights firing. So if you want something that's high key in the white background you got this. If you wanna switch it up and just make him look like this. With a black background you got it here. If you want something nice and dramatic. Give me, just flex both arms and look to the side. There you go like that, if you want something like that. Keep right there. You could just do something really dramatic like that just with the rim lights. Right here, that's showing up right there. And if you want something just kinda more normal and this dark and moody isn't the right, you could turn off all of the ones and just light, light him in the front here like this. You know, ones in the front went off. And you have him here like that. The cropping is a little loose on this one. What we have right here, you're doing all the different looks here at once like that. And you have that, and another thing that this lighting setup looks really well too, is that it looks great when you shoot it from the side. Keep looking forward? So if you photograph him here, on the side here like that. This one looks really great like here, just here like that, I know I'm blocking it here but let me do one here with the rim lights so you can get a nice separation from him. And this should show up right here. That's that one right here. And then the next one with the, I got a nice little flare on the last one here like that, so you turn on the flares and when you go off to the side, you get a nice setup. So that's what I did with the US Men's team. That photograph if you remember of Tim Howard, that he was all black? So basically what I had to do on that one, I had a similar set up to this one, but it was a little bit more crazy cuz it was outside and I had an assistant with one of these just standing on the side when I went to the side it made it all black, and this one is pretty much almost all black, you can kinda see like, you can kinda see some of the audience here just a tiny bit cuz you got video lights on there but we're, we're good. So that's how we do the setup. So, now I could shoot him for a little bit, but any questions? Do you shoot females any different than males with like athletic portraiture, is there any rules when you're shooting girls versus guys? No, I, I actually have a video on Youtube that I, Ashley Faffe, she flew me out to Las Vegas, she's a IFBB fitness competitor, and we did like seven different looks and I did this with her. Same same exact thing, so I, I don't me personally, I don't differentiate photographing women or men. I think lighting looks good, and if it looks good it's gonna look good on a person, and I don't know. You definitely have to have intent, but you don't, it just depends like you know what I mean? If you wanna bring out the texture and characteristics of a person, which this fitness didn't want that, you light 'em a certain way. If you don't want that then you light them a different way, regardless whether it's a man or a woman. That's the way I approach it. And on that note with, athletic setups like this where you want all that texture and that hard light, how do you handle it if you have an athlete who has a significant amount of acne? Do you deal with it with makeup? Do you fix it in post? Or is there something you do different to minimize it? I think I don't run into that a lot, but I did, a particular athlete, and it just sucks. So you better hope you have a good hair makeup person a groomer, and try to cover that as much as we can. Or you just, I would swap that out with a beauty dish and put a sock on it, and make it a little less prominent on the face, and do like that a little bit more prominent. That does happen from time to time. Just quickly if you were starting out would you recommend using a light meter cuz I think you talked about earlier why you don't. I, I just, because I, when you start shooting similar stuff over and over you tend to get familiar with the lights and you kinda know your stuff, but um, but like if you're trying different stuff, or you're trying to learn and speed up the stuff, I would definitely like, Dan uses a light meter, for his shoots, or at least when he teaches, and you could get it right on point. I didn't use one and I like to think I was pretty on point. But my, cuz I'm better than Dan, no, right, but, I think it just depends. I think if you practice enough, you get to know your lights that you kinda get to know, oh another thing too specifically, let me see if I'm doing this here, I this is just, this is just personal preference, kinda with a light meter and getting that exposure right, there's nothing wrong or right with this, these strobes are usually daylight balanced at 5500 Kelvin. I personally like to shoot at 4500 Kelvin, cuz I like 'em a little bit cool. These are all shot at 4500 Kelvin, you could see it right there. ISO 200, 45 kelvin. And then the cool thing about the setup, John if we could get, the one with the opticals, the zoom spot? Yeah. If we could put that on the stand and plug it in right here in this corner, a really really cool thing that you could do with this that I've done before, is you could actually do one more setup with this and I'll have a completely different look. So, let me show you how we do this right here. So one of the main things that I use for this, and, the main component to do this if you're doing all these setups at once is using the pocket wizard multimax, I don't know if you could zoom in on the camera right here but you have the control right here, the cool thing with this is that you could, I'm putting them in groups, right. So that ones in the background are in group B, right here so if you see A B and C here, that means this is gonna trigger all the three groups, A B and C right, so if I wanna turn off the background lights, I just turn off the B here, and the background lights are turned off, they won't fire. If I want to turn off the rim lights they're on C, boom you turn 'em off right. I'm about to do another set up right here, and the cool thing about this is right, the background lights could be on group B and group D. Right, so I'm about to add group D to these because I'm gonna do something else. And it's just like real real simple. You still want the go bow in here? Yes please. And now, no no no sorry take it out. Or take out the, yeah just take it out. And if you could put it literally like right here, like on the edge of this paper. This spot? Yeah. So like right there. I just added the background lights, so now the background lights are gonna fire whether I select group B and C, and that's how you could control them selectively. You cannot when I was giving them the gear list for this and I requested ten pocket wizards I know somebody suggested oh you could just use the air remote and control them all, not with this level of control that I'm doing. The air remote I love ProFoto, and I work with them but for something like this it's not efficient, I can't do it. This one, air remote, if you look it only has a group A B and C, and I was trying to talk with Dan to figure out if we could do this with that and, I, to my knowledge you can't do it this simply like that with a pocket wizard with this. You'd have to put 'em in different groups in different channels, and the problem with that is to cycle through the channels with this, you have to cycle through channel one two three four five six seven eight nine, to go back to channel one. And like I'm not gonna sit there when I only have two minutes with a person doing that cuz you waste a lot of time. Where this does come in handy though, that it's wonderful and I love it, is that you could turn off the mono lights with them off and on from this so what I do is when I'm shooting with B1's that are battery powered, I have it set up, I'll turn off the mono lights with this. When the talent comes I'll turn 'em on, and I do my shoot for two minutes, and I get in and I get it done, right. Or if you need to change the power you could do it with this on the light, without having to move it up and down and you can't do it with this. So there's like no one size fits all, like it just depends on your needs and what you're trying to create. But uh, did we set that one up? Could we get it, a little, like, yeah, let's go, let's pass it through here. So what I wanna try to do this next setup would be, really really harsh black and white setup. So we have about 10 minutes left right? Can I for shooting? All right so I'm gonna show this light setup, and then I'mma do a bunch of different looks with him in like five minutes. 15. Oh, well, You got like 15. 15 minutes? All right cool. So let's now take a step back, right here, so I'm gonna have you. So the different set up I'm gonna do differently, keep taking a step back, keep going back, keep going a lot back, further back, there you go back a little bit more, all right there. And keep like that. So different, what I'm gonna do that's different here, is these umbrellas are kind of feathered so I'm gonna have this umbrellas as rim light, right here and I'm gonna light him with just this, so if we could get that closer to him John, and try to get it up and high, probably like loop lighting. On him. And that's gonna give you a different look and I like making this look for black and white cuz I'm gonna have a really really blown out white background and the umbrellas are feathered so they're gonna give him a slight rim light that's different than this cuz this is harsh and this is like this, this is an umbrella right here so it's gonna give him kinda like a nice falloff and this is a really focused light. We're just gonna be bright and then go really really black and when you convert it to black and white it's gonna look really really beautiful. There you go, a tiny bit higher. And we're looking good. And, that one is gonna probably be, hold on, that's at nine, yeah, it's probably, yeah, cuz this is really close to him, and just turn that down. So I will turn this one down to seven. And it should be good. So we'll see how close I am with my guesstimation here. I think that's still gonna be a little bit too high cuz it's so close to him. But this is gonna be like, a third look or fourth look, keep right there, so we gotta just active here B and this should be in D, put it in D, Yeah. So actually just kidding, I didn't need to put the background in B, because I could put B here and then just fire off D, so take me with just these three lights should fire. Lets see. So what I'm gonna have you do, if you can kinda look towards this light. Putting your hair like that, and then just give me like a flex pose, kinda like that. Keep that perfect, keep it right there. Okay we're just gonna do one quick test shot right here. Just kidding. Sorry guys I got excited. All right go for it, keep it like that. Keep it there, I think. Let's see how it looks. Ah, yeah then we got it right here. This umbrella, I just wanna feather it a little bit more. Keep it like that. And let's do that again, kinda look over here. Beautiful keep it like that. There we go keep it like that tilt your head down a little bit? Perfect keep like that. And if you convert that to black and white it will look really really nice. That is very very similar to, the boxing portraits I have of, I could probably show you this is the same exact set up that I did here like that with a zoom spot and literally all I would do with this is just tweak it a little bit more or, just to get it right and dial it in, and the other, other thing I would do to have this ready for an athlete is have this on a boom. So if this is right here on a super boom you can have that here ready, have this on super boom too, you have it ready. So you just shoot it here, boom boom, switch the dials go here do another look, you got a nice black and white setting, and you're not wasting time. Cuz the way we're setting up right now to do these looks, I'll have to have you move that outta the way, so let's just go through different poses with this one. So, let's go ahead and give me the different poses that you can run through. You're saying, just do the flexing one here like that, and then we'll do the other two that you said, what was it, the lats, like lat spread, and then there was one more that you had right? Just do two? All right lets just do the two that you have, right. There you go perfect like that, excellent. Keep it just right here. And we'll do it. Like this. All right cool. Now do the other one. Yeah let's do it, yeah. Perfect keep it like that. Actually take a step to your left, leave 'em there, there you go that's great, keep it like that. Hold it right here like that. All right cool relax. And then so we just got it right here. I'll convert these to black and white, they're shot to be black and white. So okay we got this one down, which see, look how beautiful that looks. The only thing I would tweak this under is if it was in a boom, just make it so it's even on both his shoulder blades and it would be perfect and it would be beautiful and if you convert that to black and white let me just do that here real quick. It will look really really great. And when you convert it to black and white, you don't need to, do much on it, you could just do the whites here, I don't know how it's gonna look on that screen here, like that. And that's all I would do here like that. And you could tweak it more like, the only thing I would do here is just tweak the light more so it's kinda more on the center of his back it should be on his back, and you would just need a boom to do that. So let's just get that one out of the way. Okay. So that's like another look that we added to this set up right here just by adding one light. And then just come back a little bit more. So we'll just do this one and run through them. So we'll go back, and now we'll do all lights firing. So keep right here. And one of the things I always get in the habit of doing when I photograph athletes, take a tiny step forward, there you go dude, just come in here like that, look right here, is just doing a nice tight headshot, so kinda just tilt down a little bit, there you go just like that, keep looking here. And doing one and we could do that with a bunch of different looks. Let's keep it right here. There you go hold it right there. And we went there. I didn't even look at any of them. That one looks a little hot, but there we just, maybe I had you step a little too close, they all look a little hot. But we have 'em here like that. And then now we could do something different. Now let's go back. We'll do the same three different looks with, your pose keep right here. So go and do just the flexing one. Keep right here. Excellent, keep like that. I need to back up a little bit. Hold it right there it's looking great. There you go just like that. Hold it right there. Keep like that. All right let's do it one more time I got you blinking in that one. Keep it right here. Excellent hold it right here, let's turn off the front ones. Keep it right here and look off to the side, this is gonna be a nice silhouette, keep it right here. Just do kinda one arm, down flexor here. Just like that there we go that's perfect. Keep it right there. Beautiful like that, keep right here. This is kinda just more of a rim light. There you go that's great. And I don't know what happened this light switched off already, we're having him standing a little bit closer. Take a small step back, there you go. I think I had him there like that. Let me try it in the front with all lights. Keep it there. Ah yeah that's what it was. So I have to usually put a tape mark right there and know the spot cuz he's looking better here like that. On the last one where he just takes a small step back. So we have him right here. So those are all the different looks that we have. So let's just do the flexing one with this one right here all the lights. Keep right there. That's great, keep it like that. And, give me your left shoulder, so face me at three quarters. Your left shoulder, turn it to me, keep turning it, keep turning, keep turning, there you go like that it's perfect. Actually you know put both hands down and kinda just look straight down. There you go that's looking great keep right here and I'm gonna turn the background lights off on this one. Kay so it looks great. And that's another look that we have here and let me just go, keep that look I really like that. Here stay like that. We'll go to the different ones. Keep looking down there you go that's great. And then we'll do just do one more. They went off on that one right, yup. So just catching up right now, cuz that's doing, but like that's just doing a bunch of the different looks with the same setup without having to move or do anything like that. If you have a repertoire of poses that you use or is it different for every sport, or do the people tell you how they want to pose, or? Yeah I try to bring out the personality in the subjects and I, I fall back on them for that. Like I just, when you photograph talented people they help you out right, it's such a great, thing to do shoot like I did that shoot with LeBron James and that's the only athlete I photographed that I felt like I was photographing a professional model like he knew what to do in front of the camera. But like for example for like the women like right, I just spoke to them and I need a celebration shot so like, what do you do when you're celebrating you score a goal? And they kinda just show me, cuz each of them usually have their own celebration they do this or do whatever, and I talk to them and I get that from them, you know what I mean, or if I'm trying to get a genuine expression from them, like portraiture, I'll hopefully have a backstory and I'll say something like I told you with that, that I did with that politician? And say something like that and I'll just catch 'em off guard. And I have other samples I could show you actually and, oh, there it is. So for this, to get like a genuine expression from people, it's all on how you connect with them and talk with them. Let me put this one up. Not this one. Like this one with Draymond Green. Like right he's really really, relaxed on this one and really comfortable, and that was just me kinda making fun of myself. I, create a rapport with my subject and I make sure they're okay and I will, when you have that connection and it works I'll throw like off, I'll say something like, I'll say a profanity, all right, and like for this one exactly what I said I was shooting him, I'll tell you exactly what I said, right, so, forgive me. Chelsea, you want me to bring my energy up? I'll bring my energy up for this, so. So for this one I was shooting him right, this is Hasselblad, this is square format, so this was shot on film, so I had the setup with this right, I shot what I needed with this, then I shot this for myself, right I wanted to get some shots right here like this, cuz I knew I would get it relaxed with a Hasselblad camera cuz you're like this, right, instead of like this, right, so I always carry, usually try to carry one camera and have my assistant hand me my Hasselblad right so, I get it ready and I get it in camera, and I told him okay lean forward, right and we're kinda just talking we're intimate, that's, this is what a 50mm lens which is one of my favorite portrait lenses for Hasselblad and he did a interview beforehand right and he was cussing left and right so I knew he was cool with it right, and I know he's an athlete and athletes tend to talk a lot of trash and in the show he was doing, what this is for it's called Talkin' Trash, right, so he's known for talking that so I know he's totally cool with that so, what I did was when I had him lean forward, I got the framing him right, and I told him, "yeah man I know I don't give a, I shoot with film." And he just gave a laugh like that boom and I took the picture. Right so, you guys laughed, right, so it worked for you, if you laughed. I promise you right now there's somebody watching this that got offended by me saying that. Right, and like right, if you're that person that got offended, that's fine because I, I'm not saying that directly to you, I'm telling you what I said to him to get that expression from him. Like what I say to one person to get him to laugh could completely offend another person right so you have to know that with who you're photographing depending the reaction you wanna get with them. Like right I would never say that to another, like depending on, I would not say that to the politician that I photographed like right, cuz it's all different, you gotta tailor it to whoever you're photographing and the rapport and the connection you have with that person. So that's how I do that, it depends. Let's give a round of applause to our model, thank you Sanjay. Hopefully you like the way you're pictured man, you like 'em?

Time is money when photographing high profile athletes. One must be quick and efficient, which are two traits that can apply to any photography business. Five time portrait photographer of the year Alexis Cuarezma will break down how he prepares to photograph and produce a number of different looks within minutes to give his clients different visual options. He'll explain how he sets up his lighting to maximize efficiency and produce a variety of looks within a short period of time. 

 
 
 
 

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