Sports Portraits on Location

A perk of attending a school like Brooks Institute is the ability to expand skills outside my major. This spring, I enrolled in a Professional Photography class called Lighting People, which focuses on studio lighting and environmental portraits. Lighting People helped me see light more creatively, retouch my images more successfully, and provided me with insight into the industry. The class grades are translated into dollars, which helps students understand what the industry expects of them. If you submit an assignment late, or neglect one of the requirements, you get paid less. Our final project,“the final six,” requires students to present six themed portraits, exemplifying all the techniques learned during the course. I chose to shoot sports portraits.

After attending a private school near Bellingham, Washington, I started high school on new turf, surrounded by 1,500 strange peers. I found friends by taking my camera on the sidelines of homecoming games, sports events, and team practices. I built a reputation around the school as “the one with a camera always around his neck.” When I started at Brooks Institute two years ago, I came in with a passion and love for sports photography. I continue to capture the candid action and range of emotions found at a game; adrenaline, jubilation, remorse. It wasn’t until Lighting People that I understood how the construction of a well-lit pose could evoke similar emotions in the viewer.

For my “final six,” I planned to shoot on location and with a diffused flash. I shot all my photos with a Nikon D3s, a 24-70mm lens, a Sekonic light meter l-358 LS, and SB900 flash with a translucent umbrella and compact stand. The translucent umbrella diffuses the flash, serving as a soft “key” light, with the sun as “fill” light. It was important to control the light change through changing sun positions or passing clouds. The portraits themselves were designed to help teach me how to be more successful on location and control the light for a sports portrait, which can be used editorially. Overall the experience was extremely valuable. I’m glad I was pushed to succeed and learn valuable insight into what the industry of commercial portraiture will expect of me.