I've wanted to start doing high school athletics photos for a long time now. I was an athlete in high school (varsity lacrosse!), and the Taylors are all active today. And the chance to get creative with light and posing is endlessly exciting. But high school athletics photos are tough to break into when you're a one-man-show photography business. High school photos tend to go to big companies that rhyme with SchmifeSmuch.
But sometimes opportunity comes knocking. And I was more than ready to answer the door.
The volleyball coach at Westerville North sent me a message that said, "Are these photos bad or is it just me?" The senior girls didn't like their photos, and the coach wondered if the photos were really that bad. The coach agreed with her seniors, but she wanted another opinion.
You'll be shocked to know that the SchmifeSmuch photos were actually bad. (Shocking, right?) No attention to light or posing or expression. Just get the girls in the gym and click, next, click, next, click next.
I offered to do a new set of photos so that these seniors could have amazing, professional senior banners hanging in the gym all season.
How Did I Make These Photos?
The biggest consideration was comfort. I wanted the girls to enjoy the process and feel good about the experience. They hated their first set of photos, so I needed to bring them smiles, fun, high fives, jokes, and expertise. They needed to know that I knew what I was doing.
That's why I knew I had to show them their photos as we created them. My Canon 6D has built-in wifi, which allows me to show photos on my phone during the session. Instead of looking at a tiny screen on the back of my camera, I gave each senior my phone and let them swipe, zoom, and approve.
When it comes to the gear and setup, I paired my Canon 6D with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4. Set to f/5.6, the depth-of-field was deep enough to capture all of the seniors while still slightly blurring the background. With a Godox XPro trigger sitting in the hot shoe, I set up my Godox AD600BM as my key light with a 48" octobox, my Godox V1 speedlite attached to a 1'x3' stripbox as a hair/side light, and a bare Godox V860ii on the floor to illuminate the background.
Speaking of the background, I didn't have much to work in the gym to keep the photo clean. In fact, afternoon practice was set to begin, so we'd be doing our photos with a gym full of teenagers running around, serving, setting, and spiking. The gym bleachers were recessed into the wall, but I thought, "The colors match the jerseys, the look is clean enough, and I can add a pop of light to make things interesting."
And with that, we were off and running. The key light was positioned slightly off-camera left about three feet from the seniors, who I had sitting on a stool instead of standing. The stool helped them relax and not worry about their entire body. We could work on their upper-body posture without messing with their feet or legs. The hair/side light stripbox was just off-camera right, about 18-inches behind the seniors. The bleachers were about twenty feet away, and the background light was just on the floor pointed up.
I'll say again how important it was for the seniors to be able to review their photos during the session. That's one way I set myself apart from the big companies who just need to click the shutter and leave. I can give a custom, personal experience that the bigger studios just can't offer.
Scroll down and you'll agree that the effort and time were worth it.