The Art of the Shoot

Every year we spend the months of May-October shooting photographs and capturing video content for the fall and winter sports that take place at universities all across the country. 

I'd like to use an example from an old shoot to illustrate the importance of "shooting for the edit". Each time I shoot a sport I am thinking of all the ways in which the photographs may be used and what we'll need to create interesting and dynamic designs once the photos get back to the office. Too often photographers neglect to capture a wide enough range of positions, angles or poses to allow for variety throughout the long athletic season. 

These examples are from the 2015 season for Utah volleyball. Below you can see the schedule poster that kicked off the design process. 

In this case, we knew that we would need to include every athlete on the team somewhere on the poster. This can be a tall task in and of itself, but now imagine if every player was making the same pose or even one of three poses? Suddenly the task of creating an interesting composition becomes much harder. We went on to use the photos captured during this session to create the other elements that a team needs to market itself throughout the season. 

Sometimes the marketing staff likes for photos to be repurposed in different layouts, but kept the same for consistency. Other times we'll settle on completely different photos for each piece.  

Below is a good example of how each player is doing something different and how it plays on the tickets, where each individual pose really stands out. If these were, all the same, the viewer would get bored very quickly. 

You may think that something like the above comes from letting an athlete "freestyle" or just shooting whatever comes up in the process of the shoot. But it is a very calculated approach that gets you what you need.

Below is a screenshot showing just a few of the poses of number 6 that we captured during this shoot. She is looking left, looking right, hands relaxed at her side, hands on hips, arms crossed, ball in hand on the left side, ball in hand on the right side, ball in front, etc. 

We do this for EVERY. SINGLE. ATHLETE. 

Is it time-consuming? Yes.

Is it hard? Yes. But it makes all the difference. 

Now, check out this example from the 2016 Utah volleyball team. 

In this example, you can see a different take on the "all athletes featured" theme. These are action shots and celebration shots as opposed to static, posed shots. But in the case of the 2016 shoot AND the 2015 shoot, we shot BOTH options. (And always do.)

(Above: Action shots from 2015 of Number 6. These were in addition to her posed shots seen earlier in the post.)

(Above: Action shots of Number 5 from the 2016 shoot.)

So next time you commission a shoot, be sure to cover your bases. Shoot left, right, up, down, sideways and every way in between. Shoot with and without balls, rackets, helmets, gloves, and bats. Don't just shoot a few headshots and call it a day. Options make for more exciting content and more excited fans. And that's something we all want.