Every so often a commercial photography job comes along which is a little out of the ordinary. I was recently contacted by Origination, the Derby-based marketing agency, to carry out a location shoot of a sporting nature. It transpired that the location was in Darlington and the job was to photograph the team members of Middlesbrough FC wearing their new season’s strip. The team is sponsored by Adidas, so the shoot had to be carried out with careful attention to presenting the clothing in the best light, and to make the players look appropriately heroic.
The shoot involved a large number of players and other team members, and a bewildering range of strip (Home, Away, training, etc.), so there were two photographers on the shoot: myself and another Derby photographer, Stuart Wood, known for his celebrity portraits as seen on numerous magazine covers and ad campaigns.
We both had to ensure that the photos we took matched in terms of lighting so there was some consultation over the best way to achieve this. In essence we both set up a studio (complete with background and studio flash heads) in the teams’ indoor training facility in Darlington – the first time I’ve carried out a shoot on Astroturf!
Commercial photography – on the road
The day began early, loading up the car with all the kit I needed: six flash heads with stands, soft-boxes and honeycomb modifiers, cables, extension leads, background paper and stands, flash triggers and light meter, camera and lenses. The drive North to Darlington is straightforward, but still took nearly three hours, and on arrival I had to carry everything into the sports hall and set up my “studio” as quickly as possible to be ready for the “models”.
I needed to use so many lights because the requirement for the shoot was to light the players from the front with two soft-boxes, and to create a rim light from behind. In order to create this back-lighting effect from head to toe I needed two lights on either side, positioned next to the background paper.
Getting The Shots
Once the lighting was in place and I’d checked exposure, the process of shooting the team members was relatively straightforward. To avoid perspective distortion I was using a 200mm lens, so I was crouched on the ground some considerable distance away from the players, shouting and waving instructions to them. I found the players to be very relaxed and friendly, and very cooperative in adopting the various poses required by the marketing agency. With multiple changes of outfit for each player the shoot took some time, but once the job was complete to the satisfaction of the Adidas representative and the marketing director, it was time to pack up all the gear and take the long drive back to Derby.
My task was to provide Origination, the marketing agency, with a basic edit of the photos, which had all been shot on a black background. The art team at Origination then stripped in a new background, and colour-corrected the images so the Adidas kit was reproduced correctly. The images are now being used by Middlesbrough FC on its website and in print media to promote the new season, to sell tickets and, of course, football strip for the fans.
If you need commercial photography for your organisation, in the studio or on location, contact me via my website, or phone John on 07709 269577.