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Tag Archives: basketball

Hoop dreams

Being someone who is 6 ft. 6 in. tall, every so often I am asked the question, “Did you ever play basketball?” Aside from informal pick-up games with friends on the playground, I never played organized ball in school. I was always drawn more to sports like baseball and cycling. But I’ve always enjoyed watching basketball and following the progress of certain teams and athletes, both professional and collegiate.

So I was very excited to have the opportunity early in 2011 to photograph a couple of University of Richmond basketball players at the campus’ Robins Center arena. Brittani Shells and Justin Harper were two standout players who’ve gone on to play for professional teams since graduating last spring, Shells with a team in Israel and Harper with the Orlando Magic of the NBA.

With each of them I wanted to create a portrait that was somewhat unique, and not simply a headshot of them holding a basketball. Way too many of those kinds of media shots out there. With Brittani, I wanted the camera to have a very low viewpoint, so that she would appear more prominent in the setting. This meant I had to be flat on my stomach with camera at the floor, looking up. Being a tall photographer, getting myself smaller is always a challenge I’m faced with when doing shoots. I also wanted dramatic light, so I lowered the ambient (available) light of the arena with the exposure and lit Brittani exclusively with off-camera flash, one to camera right through an umbrella and one to the left for a slight edge light. I may also have had the on-camera pop-up flash triggered for a slight fill light.

For Justin, I did some shots of him on the court with the basket in the background, but then moved to a second location, the seats near courtside. One thing I had underestimated with the 6 ft. 10 in. senior was getting his huge frame into a spectator’s seat (something I should have realized, as I am always apprehensive about things like movie theatre and airline seating myself! Where to put the knees?) This setting also required a step-stool for me to get up to his eye-level while shooting, always a handy thing to bring along on a shoot! I wanted his shots to be somewhat more relaxed and not as “game-time” intense, so I tried to keep up some light conversation as I shot, to hopefully, capture a genuine moment with him. The lighting setup was somewhat similar to Brittani’s, with the key light on the right and rim light above and to the left.

They were really great to work with during these shoots, and I’m so proud to see these two student-athletes go on to fulfill their dreams of playing basketball after college. Good luck Brittani and Justin! And go Spiders!

March Madness

I’m a huge sports fan. And I enjoy all kinds of sports — baseball, football, basketball, cycling, winter sports, summer sports, on land, sea, and air — I’ll watch ’em all. And especially the big events, like the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Tour de France, and Olympic games.

So, in the United States, the month of March also marks a sports phenomenon that I gladly follow — March Madness — the weeks-long NCAA college basketball tournament that determines the nation’s #1 higher-ed. hoops kings, at least for a year.

This year, the tournament has even greater interest for me, as our University of Richmond team, the Spiders, have earned their spot in the first round of play in the South region, after an outstanding season (a school record 26 wins!). The team has generated a lot of excitement and interest around our campus and I was recently fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph one of our top players (and A-10 conference Player of the Year), Kevin Anderson, for a feature story on the UR Web site.

I was thrilled with the chance to do a shoot like this and initially had visions of some kind of Sports Illustrated-type shot of him on the court in full uniform in some very dramatic pose. But after considering the article, about his life not just as an athlete but also as a student, I decided something a little more low-key and relaxed would be more appropriate (albeit, still dramatic). He was great to work with, a really nice guy and super-cooperative.

Along with the lighting arrangement (1 key light at right w/ shoot-through umbrella and 1 rim light behind him on the left), one part of the composition I really wanted to include were the NCAA banners hanging from the rafters, hopefully alluding to the team’s upcoming games in the tournament. To do this, with Kevin seated in a chair, I had to get as low as possible, which meant, on my back on the floor looking up. Fortunately, it worked and I managed to get some good shots off before having to wrap up.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s game and to see how far the team can go. However they do in the tournament, I’m sure that Kevin’s got a bright future ahead of him — as an athlete and a person — and I wish him the very best!

Go Spiders!!!