I love me some football. So doing a portrait session with high school Senior Eli Hill who plays football for Renton Senior High School was an absolute blast.
However the shoot didn't quite start out as planned. A key part of doing on location portrait sessions is location scouting. This particular shoot was to take place at a location that should have been open. I checked the schedule early that week to make sure that no games were scheduled. As I am heading to the location I get a text from Eli's mother Irene telling me there is a soccer game happening.
CRAP! Now what? I need to find a new location asap and at the same time not upset the client. At the time I happened to be dropping my wife off to a class she was teaching and she suggested a location that was really close to where I was dropping her off.
I notified Irene that I was going to swing by this other location real quick to see if it was free. I pull into the parking lot (fingers crossed) pulled up to the fence and looked out into the field, it was empty. I only saw one person walking around the track. I immediately sent a text to Irene, and asked if we could meet at this new location (only about 10 minutes away).
I am sitting in my car with the engine running stressing and waiting for the response, after a couple minutes I get a text saying "We will meet you there". I let out a huge sigh of relief, turned off the engine and start hustling to get down to the field and get set up before the client gets there.
As I am setting up I see Eli, Irene and Gil (Eli's dad) heading down the hill to meet me. I am still pulling out my gear and trying to set up my lights. Normally I am at location no less than 30 minutes prior, checking the backgrounds, angles and getting my basic camera settings set up before the client arrives.
So now the pressure was a bit higher than normal, since I didn't have much time before they arrived. As they got closer I noticed Eli was not in full gear yet, so as he began to put on his shoulder pads, cleats and jersey, I quickly to advantage and used that time to finish setting up.
Luckily we both got done about the same time, so I approached Eli and began talking to him about what he could expect from the shoot and let him know if he had any thoughts or ideas for shots he should feel free to speak up.
This kid was almost like working with a professional model. Normally there is a lot of direction needed for posing but with Eli it was a breeze. I threw out a couple of basics to turn this way, lower your chin, face the light and that's about it, we were off to the races.
Each time we set up for a new pose or change positions, I have to double check the background for anything distracting.
I wanted to get as much as I could right as they say "in camera" so that I don't have to do a ton of removing items in Photoshop. This saves so much time when it comes to editing/post processing.
One of the things I always do during my shoots is to keep things light. I crack jokes, poke fun at myself and try to get the kids to cut loose a bit. It's even better when the parents get involved. In this case, Eli's dad was getting into it and practicing his own football poses.
This really helps them relax so they don't look so stiff and it lets out their true personality. When you let them goof off and play you end up with some really fun shots.
We pretty much had the field to ourselves the first hour of the shoot but then an entire team of soccer players showed up and took over the place.
They were running all over the place, with no concern about getting in our way running in front and behind my shots. They even pulled back the soccer goal we had moved out of the way to get some nice shots with the goal posts in the background. Complete disregard for our space.
Finally I decided to ask one of the players walking to the field if they were using the whole field to play, he replied yes, but not until 7 pm. This gave us just over 30 minutes to get all of the shot list done. I gathered up the gear and moved to the other side of the field.
Now the pressure was on. Sunset wasn't for about 45 minutes, so I would have to use some creativity to get that dramatic sunset look we all love for football portraits. I switched to the wide angle lens, raised my F-stop, cranked up the power on my flash, got low and grabbed as many poses as possible in the short amount of time we had left. As you can see I got what I was after.
All in all, the session went very smooth and the shots came out amazing. It's always nice to work with someone that needs minimal direction, and handles himself as a true professional.
If Eli is the same way on and off the field as he was during our shoot, he has a really bright future ahead of him. I look forward to watching this young man move on in life and see what he has to offer the world.