This is my third year shooting WNBA games and media day events for the National Basketball Association (NBAE). So far I’ve enjoyed working with all of the players, and it’s been a blast! Two of my favorite subjects to date are Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd.
Sue & Jewell
Sue Bird is arguably one of the most recognizable WNBA players of all time. She was the first pick in the WNBA 2002 draft, and she’s won two WNBA championships with the Storm (2004 and 2010). Additionally,Bird is a four-time Olympic gold medal winner (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016). She’s been the WNBA assist leader three times (2005, 2009 and 2016). Sue has also been selected to nine WNBA All-Star teams and seven All-WNBA teams. She is one of only nine women to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NCAA Championship, and a WNBA Championship. Read more about Sue’s accomplishments here.
Jewell is quickly becoming one of the best young players in the league. She was taken first overall in the 2015 WNBA draft. Along with Breanna Stewart (photographed above), Jewell is become a core component of the Storm’s bright future. As a member of Notre Dame’s squad, Jewell was once named ESPN’s women’s college basketball player of the year. She scored 1,909 points in her college career, ranking as Notre Dame’s fifth-highest career scorer. Read more about Jewell here.
The first two years of media day, I primarily concentrated on getting what the NBA and the Storm had requested. Specifically, the WNBA desires certain poses of each player using a high-key setup. These types of images are done so players can be cut out of the mage later for advertising purposes. The Storm’s media department is separate from the NBA’s and they prefers low-key shots for their media uses.
These two setups have become easy for me to provide, so this year I decided I’d try to get something for my portfolio too. That’s not to say that my previous work wasn’t portfolio worthy as it is. It’s just that I feel a lot of photographers know how to shoot high-key shots, and I wanted to use the opportunity to do something that reflected my style more.
Practice Makes Perfect
Going into this shoot I knew my time with each player would be short due to the multitude of planned events on media day. To do anything, I knew I’d have to get creative with my time. Thankfully I was able to take my ideas to my studio in downtown Seattle. There I spent a few hours photographing my girlfriend Nikki.
The specific methodology I devised consisted of setting up a high-key lighting setup and then simply changing the mood of the image by turning off the background lights. Also, instead of using traditional basketball player poses, I focused on posing Sue and Jewell in a way that was much more about them first and basketball second. I really love the end result!
With literally the flip of a switch, and some simple poses, I was able to accomplish two different looks in a quick amount of time. I’m extremely thrilled with the results and I’m even more excited about next year’s media day!