Sunday, April 12, 2009

All verticals, all the time

"Extending for the ball, Reggie Brown of The Adventist Knights wheelchair basketball team, attempts to pull in a rebound at the Emery Recreation Center on Wednesday night. Brown and teammates were practicing for an upcoming tournament."

Last month, I shot for a client who was looking for some images of a D.C. based wheelchair basketball team. While I had to shoot vertical images 99.9 percent of the time there, I ended up having a lot of fun.

The art director was simply looking for one image for the cover and one image for the inside of their publication. She suggested shooting the practice and then shooting some portraits following so that they could have more than one option to chose from. Easy enough.

After making my way to the gym in D.C., where the Adventist Knights wheelchair basketball team practiced, I introduced myself to the team and told them I wasn't looking for them to do anything special. I simply threw up some lights and let them do their thing.

The team was not fully assembled that night due to bad weather. Although as they practiced for their fifth anniversary tournament their was enough for a three-on-three full court scrimmage.

What I didn't know, was the team is apart of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), which was formed in 1946 out of wheelchair basketball’s popularity among war veterans. Today the NWBA has over 200 teams that comprise six divisions. Pretty cool.

These guys are strong, and the game rules, play and playoff formats are similar to those of NCAA basketball. In addition to competing nationally, the Adventist Knights also promote disability awareness throughout the Washington, D.C., area. Again, very cool.

These guys could make for a great story, but it's quite a haul from Baltimore, not to mention, I recently saw a fantastic photo story on a wheelchair basketball team in one of the recent (or past year) contests. I'll have to find the link.

Anyways, my art director for the assignment told me what she had in mind, so I shot mostly in that criteria, along with images that I thought would work.

I mainly shot tight, but when they went down the other end of the court, I shot some overalls with ambient light and really liked the clean look of the white wall, hoops and chairs.

Afterward, I asked some of the players if they would want to be in some portraits. Most, if not all, were really excited to get shot one-on-one and look like they were the next pro. I even shot one guy twice he was so pumped.

I rigged up a nice, small portable studio in the gym and shot things my way. I wasn't sure if the magazine would like them.

The art director in the end said that my portraits were a little edgy for their publication, so at first picked a more subtle image.

However, in the end they went with this frame here. I was happy they ended up with that portrait and thought the final product with the banner and text looked awesome.


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