The football team was one of those times. Originally they had said they didn't have an idea and wanted me to come up with something so I had an idea prepared for them but when they walked in they had come up with an idea of their own. They wanted their motto to either be "Truck Ya!" as a reference to their hill billy roots :) or "Body and Soul, this is how we roll" I suggested that the second would probably be more appropriate but from there I had to do some quick thinking. With the "this is how we roll" I figured some kind of vehicle would be cool to pose them on but what? At first I thought of a locomotive or semi, and did some quick checking through my libraries of images that I have accumulated. I had a few but not exactly what I wanted. I then remembered I had a cool truck that I had used in creating some images for a national advertising campaign for PhotoVision. (You can check it out at http://www.photovisionvideo.com.) I found the image quickly and printed it off, drawing some stick figures to layout where I could fit the guys. The boys loved the truck and had a quick argument over exactly what model, year and engine it most likely had in it. Then it was picture time. The guys had a lot fun getting into their rolls. A few of them had longer hair and we broke out the hair fan for them which was pretty funny :)
The next weekend happened to be the town holiday and parade. As I was sitting with my kids gathering candy I noticed another big jacked up truck pull up down the street. Even though I had already started compositing the players into the other truck, I couldn't resist grabbing a few shots of that one and ran a few blocks to the studio to grab my camera. I was able to get a few decent images of that truck. But just a short while later I was sure glad I had gone to get my camera because an even bigger jacked up truck rolled by. So I ended up using the tires and undercarriage of that truck to put under the original 1970's truck to give it even more of a tough truck look.
For the individuals above I had to visualize the height and position of things around them - where a hand needed to be to hold onto the side of the truck, how someone would be hanging out the driver's window, and how I could insert an American flag (by request). As I mentioned it's a good thing I work good under pressure because I only had about 5 minutes to come up with an idea, pre-visualize how each athlete would be able to fit into the image and then figure out what to use to position them so that they would actually look like they were there in the final poster!
|The truck with the original smaller tires|
|The final poster|
VolleyballThe Volleyball team this year had scheduled their poster well ahead of time and given me their motto plenty of time before the shoot. But to be honest mid August is my busiest time of year and I hadn't had time to get much together. I work very well under pressure though and knew I could come up with something awesome. They wanted their motto to be "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments" and feature a bridge in the background. Well silly me, I had just been to Florida a month before and passed tons of cool bridges and not taken any, but luckily the weekend after I took their portraits I went boating with my camera and some friends and was able to get a few shots of a bridge.
My challenge though lay in finding a way to put the girls into the image without making them standing in water. The coach didn't want them to be wet. After lots of brainstorming I ended up using some rocks from an old poster to layer in some water and then created a foggy river bank to obscure the edges.
|I offer many of my posters as templates to other photographers (as long as you are not anywhere near my area) and really like the options this one offers for layering in players at different heights and positions|
Cross CountryFor the cross country team this year the coach called me a few days before the shoot and told me that his wife had come up with the idea to use the motto "The Original Tough Mudders" If you don't know, a Tough Mudder is a crazy obstacle coarse with insane things like electric shock, fire pit jumps and tunnels of ice water. People who participate end up looking like a stack of mud with shoes. When the coach told me of his idea I made sure to double check that the athletes would be fine getting covered in mud. The day they came in I had sheets of plastic laid down from the back garage door to the shooting area. I loaded them up in my truck and drove a couple blocks to my house where we had just done some landscaping and had big dirt yard. I broke out the hose and everyone had a mud fight. Some were a little more hesitant than others but they all ended up looking pretty good!
From there I took them back to the studio and photographed them each. The hardest part was coming up with a good background. It mostly helps to have this kind of stuff ready before hand but I enjoy doing things the hard way! I ended up layering lots of photoshop mud brushes and water brushes until I had a rainy muddy looking scene for the team to be standing in.
|How tough do these guys look!|
|Since they were muddy and having fun I did a few group shots for the parents too.|
The Durant football team wanted their motto to be "Coming In Hot" at first they suggested going to the fire station and having them stand around a fire truck. I explained that to create the epic image that they had seen in the past I photograph each person individually in the studio to get the very best expression and lighting and then could composit them onto a fire truck or whatever we ended up doing. The night before they came in I did some experimenting and came up with a cool action that made their hands and feet look like they were "red hot" and about ready to burst into flames. When they came in I showed them my idea and suggested that keeping the background very simple would help to really focus on them. They loved the idea and we set about coming up with random poses that would look cool. These guys were a lot of fun also. I have a big studio with lots of couches and they made themselves at home, sitting around cracking jokes and having a good time. I'm looking forward to seeing some of these guys for senior portraits. I know that they are going to get some great portraits because they already feel completely comfortable.