Corporate Sports Portraiture

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Portrait of a squash star : Laura Massaro

Getting the opportunity to photograph anyone who's at the top of their game is something I can rarely pass upon. So when interior design specialists Whitespace Consultants offered me the chance to photograph a World Class Squash player I immediately said "hell yeah!".

In my youth, I was a pretty good county badminton player and so anyone that reaches World status in a racquet sport gets my vote. Whitespace are sponsoring Lancashire lady squash legend, - Laura Massaro - UK No.2, World No.3 and WISPA Player of the Year. Amazing. Her rankings even improved whilst I was putting this post together and so the BTS video is a smidgen out of date. Laura is an amazing player and is regularly traveling to the far-flung corners of the globe, chasing a small ball and picking up big titles.

By sponsoring Laura, Whitespace has taken a prime position on Laura's apparel and their call to me was to capture the new livery and to help market their collaboration with a local celebrity and International sports star.
corporate portraiture

Click on the image to see more from the shoot.

The approach

From my point of view, I wanted to get some exciting sporting profiles shoots that could be used for a mixture of media applications. As with all high class athletes, the timing was going to be extremely tight, we only had 1 hour to get everything done, then she'd be catching a flight to the US for a big tournament. So we had to capture the more creative profile shots (on a squash court) and the basic corporate greeting shots back at Whitespace HQ (about 5 minutes away). This was going to be very tough, I'd need to be organised. I wasn't worried at all about the 'grip and grin' style corporate shots I've done enough of those in my time but wanted to pull something special out of the profile shots on the court. The heat was on.

Top tips when approaching a job with a very tight time window.

  • Have a crystal clear plan in your mind of what you can realistically achieve within the allotted time scale.
  • Don't push the envelope and don't try something experimental - keep it simple.
  • Get the basic shot done and then if there's time have a little play, but make sure you have the shot first.
  • Know your camera and lighting kit inside & out. Eat, sleep and breathe the buttons until they're an extension of your arm.
  • Writing down a shoot plan is the best way to ensuring there are no surprises.
  • Get to the location early.

I had 3 setups worked out in my mind and I knew what kit I was going to use and when. I even pre-set the flash guns to a known working power and packed them complete with their Honl grids in place. When time is precious you need to do everything you can before the shoot to get ready. Then you can simply whip the lights out the bag onto some light stands and you're ready to shoot.

I wanted the look to be slightly gritty so that it portrayed character and unyielding tenacity. So, I went for some pretty edgy lighting, encouraging a strong rim from x2 canon 580ex's. The key light was provided by a gridded Elinchrom softbox, this was to reduce the spill onto the floor and to control and toughen the light up a bit to key in with the strong edgy rim light.

We had great fun creating the shots and Laura was very generous with her time and a complete professional on set, we even had time to slip in a slightly comical 'wild card' portrait.

I hope you like them and feel free to leave your feedback. There are plenty more posts in the pipeline so don't forget to check back soon.

Thanks again for stopping by, if you're interested in seeing more corporate portraits please click here.