Under Armour Lacrosse Ads

I thought I would share a cool job I did for Under Armour a while back. Under Armour began as a small sports specialty clothing company based in Baltimore, Maryland. Legend has it that the founder, a Maryland football player named Kevin Plank, started the company after he was unsatisfied with the t-shirts and undergarments players wore under their football uniforms. His company was the first to develop the stretchy, moisture-wicking fabrics that are commonplace today.

The sequence composite

The sequence composite

Anyway, Under Armour has grown into a gigantic company that makes all sorts of sports apparel and shoes. I was contacted by them to do an advertising shoot featuring their new line of products for lacrosse players.

We used real college lacrosse players as models, which was a huge help, since I’m a Texas guy. Football, basketball, baseball, track and field: no problem…..but I was not equipped to teach any models the finer points of lacrosse form.

Fortunately for all of us, the Art Director from Under Armour, Steve Grudzien,  did a great job of imagining the final ad. His idea was to shoot a sequence of a player in action, and then combine the individual shots into a composite. Since we were shooting in the daytime on a lacrosse field, we had to really crank the strobes to overpower the ambient light and create the backlit “Under Armour Lighting” that the brand is known for in all their advertising.

The diving shot

The diving shot

Steve did a great job of seamlessly combining 5 separate shots into the finished ad.

We had two great models to work with, so after nailing down the sequence shot, we set up mats on the field and staged some diving shots. We slowed the shutter a little on these to create a bit of motion blur around the player. Another Under Armour designer, Megan Bolster did a great job of designing the diving shot into another cool ad.

Warren Sapp emerging from the Black Lagoon

The final photo of Sapp in the pool

The final photo of Sapp in the pool

Sometimes you have an idea in your head, and even though you don’t know who you might eventually use it on, you know that one day, you’ll eventually realize your vision and take that photograph.

For several years, I knew that I wanted to photograph someone, (ANYONE), their face painted with theatrical face paint, emerging from a pool of water, or just under the surface. I could picture this photograph in my head before I ever had a subject to photograph. Usually, my imagination wandered toward blue water and gold paint….maybe it would be a photograph of an Olympic swimmer or diver, who knows?…. but nevertheless, the vision stayed with me for quite some time.

When I received an assignment to photograph Warren Sapp, a big NFL football star, who had recently changed teams, I knew the time had arrived to float this harebrained scheme.  Sapp had just signed with the Oakland Raiders, whose crazed Raider-Nation fans dress up in other-worldly costumes, face paint, crazy masks, etc… and attend games in costume. He was known for having an outlandish personality matching his oversized frame. My thought was that he might be crazy enough to let me try the face paint on him, in a silver color matching the Raider Nation fans I had seen at so many Raiders games. I made some sketches of him in the crazy fan uniform and of the “face-emerging-from-water” photo that I had been thinking of for so long.

Sketches from my Moleskine notebook

Sketches from my Moleskine notebook....try not to hate.

It was the off season, so there were not the usual practice time constraints, or teammates watching, and since we were doing the shot at his agent’s (Drew Rosenhaus) home in Miami, there would be no nervous team PR man there telling us we couldn’t do it. After setting up the shoot and making sure Drew had a pool (who doesn’t have a pool in South Beach, right?), I asked Drew’s marketing guy about my idea….black water, silver face paint….an abstract homage to the Raider fan. I’ll never forget his response….”Hell yeah! He’ll put all that spiky costume shit on for you too!”

I had a tight schedule with another shoot in Indianapolis, a half day at home, and then a shoot in Denver, with two days at home before the Sapp shoot in Miami. I used what little time I had to scurry all over town looking for props to create a true Raider Fan outfit…..I found latex shoulder pads and a skull belt and shoes via a Gene Simmons Halloween costume, ordered a Raiders jersey, which I ripped to shreds, and bought football pants and Umpire’s shin guards, to which we attached little silver painted skulls and spikes that we found at an art supply shop. I painted and touched up the Halloween costume, which was looking a little old.

My fearless friend David in the pond

My fearless friend David in the pond

The next trick was to test my black water idea. I knew I wouldn’t have long with Warren, and I wanted to make sure everything was perfect before we tried such a crazy idea. I also thought it might help to show him the photo so he would know what we were going for. I knew that we needed a black pool, since a regular pool would have picked up a light blue tone from the water. I have a fairly large koi pond in the back yard, and I had recently bought one of those pre-formed black plastic water garden pools, to keep fish in while cleaning my main pond….I decided it would make a great test pool. I needed to find a test subject with a shaved head like Warren, who was also nutty enough to let me cover them with face paint and lay in my pond for a test photo. I somehow convinced my only bald-by-choice friend, David, to help me out.  I determined from the test that we needed a larger light source, since it made more interesting reflections on the water, and that the water needed to be disturbed, or it would just look black.

I went to the airport the next morning for a leisurely flight to Miami….I built in plenty of time to look around the neighborhood, rent additional lighting gear and prep for the shoot the next day. Unfortunately, a huge thunderstorm had other plans, and I literally spent the night in the airport while doing the constant rebooking/flight cancellation dance between gates all night. I finally made a flight at 5:00am, and barely made it to Miami in time. I’ve always been anal about arriving in town for big shoots at least the day before, so 18 hours of flight delays made me very nervous.

The Ultimate "Raider Fan"

The Ultimate "Raider Fan"

A trusted assistant Cy Cyr, and makeup artist Paula Abraham were already en route from Orlando and met me at Drew’s house. Paula setup her airbrushing tools, while Cy climbed in the pool and covered the bottom with black plastic. We used weights to secure it to the pool floor and keep the plastic from floating around.  We set up lighting for both shots, and waited for Warren to arrive.

It was an interesting location for a shoot. Drew is probably the most famous sports agent in the world: he’s the only agent ever featured on the cover of SI, and he’s reviled in many NFL front offices for his hard-hitting negotiating skills. For us, he was a gracious host, and we were happy to photograph Warren in a comfortable, relaxed environment.

Warren was great during the shoot…..an absolute showman, and he went through a million great poses for us, screaming and hissing like some sort of Raider monster. He was having a great time, and was fabulous to work with. We had both setups done quickly and we were able to get him back in his normal attire and on with his day.  As I returned to the airport, I was able to scratch another crazy idea off my list.

Portraits at Covenant House for Do1Thing Project

On February 13, 2009, I took part in the Do1Thing project by shooting portraits of homeless teens at Covenant House in Houston.  The project was the brainchild of photo editors Najlah Feanny Hicks and Pim Van Hemmen.  They had previous success with the Heart Gallery project, in which photographers donated their time and talents to photograph teenage foster children.  

Do1Thing grew from that project, and on Feb. 14, professional photographers and award winning photojournalists around the country came together to produce documentary work, portraits, and multimedia to highlight teen homelessness.  

I was humbled to have been asked by Najlah to participate in the project.  There were ultimately over 114 photographers involved, including 31 Pulitzer winners, and some of the top commercial and magazine photographers around the country.

In Houston, I was fortunate to participate with Dave Einsel, Smiley Pool, and Todd Spoth, each of whom tackled a different aspect.  Our work is slated to be combined into a multimedia project featuring photographs and audio interviews with the kids at Covenant House.

To find out more about Do1Thing, check out the website here.

To donate locally to Covenant House in Houston follow the link here.

 

Some of my portraits from the Do1Thing Project

Some of my portraits from the Do1Thing Project

LightSource Photography Podcast

The guys over at StudioLighting.net have compiled quite a list of interviews with photographers which are archived on their website in podcast form.  The interviews, conducted with Bill Crawford and Ed Hidden, cover lighting techniques, stories and tips from top commercial photographers and others well known for their lighting prowess.  These are great fun to listen to and are full of good information.

In addition to me (Episode 33), they have also featured the likes of Michael Grecco, Michael Muller, Chase Jarvis, Tim Tadder, Dave Hill, and David Hobby.

You can check out the entire list here, or by looking for Lightsource Studio Photography Podcast under “podcasts” in itunes.

Adobe Showcase: Robert Seale

box_lightroom2_150x150I was recently contacted by software manufacturer  Adobe to be featured on their website as an “Adobe Success Story”  in the Customer Showcase section of the Adobe website.

Adobe Success Stories profile photographers, artists, and companies, their work, and the different Adobe products they use in their business.  In my case, the article mostly involves the photography workflow program Lightroom, which I’ve used since it became available.  Lightroom has greatly streamlined my workflow, client delivery, and archiving system.  

There’s a link to the story here.

Robert Seale and Brad Mangin speaking at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown

On April 17th, my colleague Brad Mangin and I will be presenting a slide show program of our work during the first annual “Photography Education Day” at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  

nationalbaseballhalloffamelogo21My good friend Brad is an absolutely stellar action photographer who lives in the Bay Area, and shoots baseball for Sports Illustrated and MLB.  For over 20 years, Brad has been making iconic baseball images, and understands the game , players (and good light….) better than any photographer I know.  I’m honored to be presenting this program with him.

I, of course worked at The Sporting News from 1996-2006, shooting over 200 covers for them, including many cover portraits of baseball players.  I’ve had a couple of winning photos enshrined in the hall from the annual Baseball Hall of Fame Photo contest, so I’m looking forward to finally visiting their vast baseball archive in Cooperstown.

We were invited to give a joint photography presentation, with Brad handling the action photography, and me talking about portraiture.  We’ll both tell stories of some of the great games we covered and of course, some behind the scenes stories about the famous (and infamous…) players we’ve both dealt with over the years.

Baseball photography has a rich history, and we’ll also be producing and presenting a short educational program on the History of Photography in Baseball.

Here’s a link to our program on the Hall of Fame website. 

For more information, please call 888-HALL-OF-FAME