The FIFA World Cup is over a month away (June 12-July 13, 2014), but advertisers and photographers are already going full throttle into preparing for the big event. Commercial shooter Monte Isom is one of them, but instead of focusing on the teams, he's turned his lens to the die-hard fans decked out in soccer garb wearing World Cup war paint—and it was up to him to bring out their best screams, chants and fist pumps in his studio.
As is the story behind many projects, this one came about somewhat accidentally. A few years ago, Isom was hired by Wieden + Kennedy in Amsterdam to do a shoot for EA Sports FIFA World Cup 2010. The idea behind this shoot was to capture a team's fans getting paint thrown on them in the opposition's colors, with the slogan "Make the World Wear Your Colors." Isom shot quite a few test shots of just the hollering fans in team colors, and he decided to try out this simple yet effective shoot idea on his own.
Isom worked with makeup artist Elizabeth Yoon and expertly coaxed each fan to act exactly as they would at a live game if their team just scored a goal, pulling out their intense and humorous expressions and emotions for the camera."Every countries fanatical World Cup fans brought their own fire," says Isom. "Argentina and Brazil, even though geographically next door, have very different expression; the Argentinians had intensity in their chants while Brazilians dance and sway with smiles on their faces while cheering. Having a good time on set is as important as getting the shot you and the client are looking for, and one goes hand in hand with the other. Now, the good times stop immediately if you are not prepared technically to capture these reactions by these rapidly moving football fans."
Isom used a variety of gear to get the frozen action and lighting just right: the Phase One 645DF+ camera, Leaf Shutter lenses (to use the 1/1600th of a second flash sync) and Profoto 8A strobe packs, which can be connected to the radio transmitter on the Phase One's V grip for high-speed flashes. "I used a single beauty dish key light to emphasize the drama in the soccer fans' expressions," Isom explains. "If the eyes started to go dark, an assistant holding a silver card (20 x 16-inch silver foam core) would bounce a small catch light into the eye." He also had medium strip banks with grids for edge lights and a 7-inch reflector with a 10-degree grid as a background light.
"The lighting is simple," Isom says. "I wanted to keep all the focus purely on the passion the fans of the World Cup were bringing to the table." See the stills from the shoot below.