Prep Athlete of the Week
As I sometimes do before a portrait shoot, I turned to Google’s image search for some ideas. My assignment was to photograph a local high school keeper. Initially I wanted to do a low-angle shot of her diving for a ball, but as I looked through the results of my “soccer keeper portrait” search, I noticed that there were no overhead angles. All of the portraits I could find were either low angle or eye level. I love a good overhead shot so I thought I’d try something a little different. I borrowed a six-foot step ladder from the photo editor and shot an action portrait wide from above. It’s definitely not an angle you see often in soccer photography. At this particular high school, it’s extremely hard to get a clean background because of stadium lights, bleachers, a small building, fencing and – believe it or not – a windmill behind one goal. Shooting from a high angle down gave me a clear background that doesn’t take away from the subject.
I talked to the subject on the phone around 6 p.m., drove out to the school at 6:30 p.m. and started the shoot around 7 p.m. Unlike magazines and larger newspapers, we don’t enjoy the luxury of time when it comes to a lot of our shoots. In this particular case, I found out who I would be photographing at noon on Monday and had the entire shoot done by 8 p.m. The lighting setup was extremely simple. I used one Canon 550EX speedlight shot through an umbrella at 1/8 power above the subject on camera right. That light was held by one friend from work while a second friend lobbed the soccer balls to her.
I decided to do something a little different with this week’s prep athlete of the week portrait. After photographing a soccer player outside last week, I decided to take this week’s subject in studio. The subject is the keeper so I thought I’d try to show him reaching out to save goals. Due to the confines of our studio at the paper, I wasn’t able to get him to stretch out too far. The frame below is not a composite or a multiple exposure. It’s a 10-second exposure. After opening the shutter, I used PocketWizards to trigger three different lights with each light on a different channel to allow me to trigger them in a specific order.
Here are a few frames from a photo shoot of Cheyenne Central’s Christie Schiel. Schiel was our paper’s prep athlete of the week after scoring multiple goals in a game against cross-town rival Cheyenne East on Friday evening. I had never shot a soccer portrait before, but had a couple concepts coming into the shoot. I got out to the pitch early, and had everything set up ready to go in time for the shoot thanks to help from a couple friends. The third shot was a happy accident when one of my speedlights didn’t fire.