Sports Portraiture

Today, I had the opportunity to do some athlete-themed portrait work in the studio at SOPHA in Manchester. This was a shoot I had been planning in my mind for a while but hadn’t found the right model to work with. Along came Paul. Paul is a personal trainer and all-around great guy and he was a lot of fun to work with under the lights.

For the bulk of the shoot, the vision I had been formulating in my head involved lighting primarily with grids on edge lights. Using a dark backdrop and keeping Paul in a very dark-blue t-shirt for most of the shots, I lit him with a medium octagon fill light on a boom and two 30-inch strips with grids – one on each side. The purpose of this setup was to maintain the overall dark tone of each photo while “cutting” the model out from the background. Without the edge lighting, Paul’s torso and hair would have completely disappeared into the dark background.

We began the session with some nice, static portraits. Again, notice how the edges of Paul’s shirt and his hair cut nicely from the background:

Image of athlete in studio portrait session.

Image of athlete in studio portrait session.

While I was mostly looking for static portraits out of this session, we did play around with some energetic shots, as well. Here, Paul demonstrates pushups using a medicine ball. My arms were shaking just watching him do them!

Image of medicine ball pushups with male model in studio portrait.
Paul demonstrating medicine ball pushups.

For the last shot, I needed to get Paul out of his shirt and into some speed gloves so he could show off his boxing skills. Without the edge lighting, this shot could have failed due to the black glove against a dark background. But notice how the edge lighting cuts the glove from the background and also highlights the yellow logo on the knuckles of the glove.

Image of boxer in studio portrait session.

When all was said and done, my favorite shot of the day ended up being the one at the very top of this post of Paul holding his medicine ball in contemplation. All-in-all, it was a fun session and we were both very pleased with the end results. Looking forward to the next collaboration!


About the Author: is the Senior Marketing Strategist for 603 Media Group. Primarily tasked with the challenges of keeping our small business running, Jeremy also occasionally branches out into public speaking, blogging, website design and raising his son to not be another one of “those damn kids”.