Terps Football: Action through Light
As a freelance artist, I have found that my loyalties to any particular team need to be minimized on set, the only person I work for is the client. This is often easier said than done, but is a must in order to maintain a certain quality level of work over a broad portfolio. In order to stay objective, I intentionally try to stay uniformed about the sports or athletes that I am photographing. It is important that I know only what I need to know in order to be respectful and safe with the athlete on set. From there I have found that most of my subjects have fun talking about what they do to someone that doesn’t try to know too much about their sport.
On a recent photoshoot that I did for the University of Maryland, I let one of the football players walk me through what he visualized as “intensity.” It was speed, it was fluid motion and I was captivated. I began thinking about how to show my viewers the mental imagery he created. I had him walk me through the action that he sees on the field, both in common plays and highlight reels.
Going into the shoot I had researched the aesthetics of the team and school only to find that many people found their jerseys to be cluttered and busy. For this reason I asked myself, “what does motion do to this uniform?” The yellow stripes on the legs, the red and black contrasts, the flags on the gloves… Yes, it was busy, but I felt that it could really sell speed, explosiveness and action.
We shot in the locker room of the football team, not by choice, but because the weather forced us to. It ended up working well as we had the fake grass from the field and a dark environment of contained light.
I often tell people that working with collegiate athletes is easier than working with professionals because they have not yet developed the sense of importance that a pro has. However, I feel that I learned more from this shoot and would extend my concept to this… college athletes often realize that the shoot is important and that there is no guarantee of more shoots in the future. For this reason I feel they give everything they can to make the image. For this shoot, it was a simple conversation that made the imagery.