Five minutes to photograph FSU's Dalvin Cook
It’s a scenario many celebrity photographers are all too familiar with, two hours of setup for five minutes with a subject. I on the other hand, was not so familiar with it. I recently gave it a try for a portrait of Florida State University running back Dalvin Cook. I drove up to Tallahassee with my colleague Will Vragovic for the shoot.
We rolled our cart full of gear into a classroom and found out we’d be sharing the space with two other photographers. We’d get five minutes with Cook while the other photographers waited their turns. Top 40 hip-hop radio played. I sang along while Will laughed at me.
To say I was nervous is an understatement. I’ve never done a shoot of this scale on my own, so I was grateful for Will’s guidance. I wanted a lighting setup where we could produce multiple looks in a short amount of time. And a hair light. I knew we needed a hair light.
We started with two parallel softboxes, one on each side of Cook. We added a beauty dish in the front for fill, and a hair light on a c-stand. Once we got the lights arranged, we tested the exposures to get dialed in before Cook arrived.
Then we waited. And waited. My nerves started to get to me. I thought I was going to puke. Cook walked in only a few minutes later than scheduled.
It was clear I was more nervous than anyone else in the room. Cook was cool, calm and collected. Will stood off to my side and helped with props and poses. We had brainstormed poses beforehand and kept it pretty simple.
To achieve a second look, halfway through the shoot we cut off some of the lights. That look is what we ended up going with for the poster page Sports front. I liked the second lighting look because it accentuated the the pensive feel of Cook’s pose, especially with his eyes closed. The rim light made his hair pop from the background, too.
We wrapped up with the final pose, shook hands and the shoot was over. I was relieved that it went well. It’s very rewarding to have a look in mind, then tweak the light until it comes together. I’m looking forward to more shoots like this, and hopefully less nerves.