High School Seniors

WPPI Sneak Peek: Richard Sturdevant Discusses Adding Hyper-Realism to Sports and Senior Shoots

March 3, 2016

By RF Staff

Richard Sturdevant describes himself as a "leading expert in photographic artistry and creative composites," and his portfolio of hyper-real sports and senior photos proves it. Based in Gardland, Texas, Sturdevant's work has received numerous prestigious awards, including first place in the portrait and group category in the 2010 and 2011 WPPI 16x20 Print Competition. This year at WPPI, he will be teaching the master class "Sports and Fantasy Art" on March 6 from 3-5 p.m.

Photo © Richard Sturdevant

Photos © Richard Sturdevant


Can you tell us what WPPI members can expect to learn from your presentation this year?

Richard Sturdevant: WPPI members will be able to see how they can implement my hyper-realistic illustrative style to their everyday images and create more storytelling for their clients. This program will show you my approach and the thought process behind raising the level of everyday sports images for school photography. They will also see the fantasy component that can be implemented into senior photography. I will do a step-by-step presentation of how I build these artistic composites and I will get straight to the “nuts and bolts” of the techniques involved.

What have you added to your education platform that may not have been as relevant one, two, or five years ago?

RS: Artistic speed—how to get to the end product by learning the techniques you “have to do” versus the techniques you “do not have to do” to get the same high-end artistic look. Time is money, so being fast is very important. Over the past few years, I have also implemented what I call the “ripped” technique. Football players, baseball players, volleyball players, etc., all want to be like their professional heroes. I bring to them the ability to look like these heroes by using special techniques to add a muscular, ripped effect through their uniforms. This has been an overwhelming success with the athletes, as well as parents!

Do you see this fantasy-style of imagery as a growing trend?

RS: I do see this as a growing trend. I have been doing this type of work for the past 15 years—even when no one else was doing it. Each year I take it to the next level. One of my images was placed on the cover of Rangefinder in 2006 and several of my sports images have won awards at WPPI. That is to say that as more and more photographers see the artistic element that is being added to these images, the desire to produce this style of imagery for their clients has grown year after year. Over the years, the trick for me was finding a way to make it affordable, so I started making high-end templates and began mass-producing those for sports teams and athletes.

Photo © Richard SturdevantHow can different types of photographers and filmmakers apply the educational lessons and techniques that you will be providing?

RS: The techniques learned in this presentation can be applied to any image. Techniques are the foundation to being able to execute work like this, but it is the thought process and conceptualizing that takes work like this to the next level. These techniques can be applied to wedding images, newborn images, and also film editing—they all use layers, and the way that I use layers will definitely help speed up your workflow and help you be more creative!

What gets you excited about this topic?

RS: Seeing clients view their final artistic image for the first time! Not only can they then see themselves in a way that they have never seen before, but also at that time, a moment in their life is immortalized in this work of art. I have built a niche in my marketplace to do what I love to do, and I love creating.

Don't forget to check out these other speakers at WPPI:


PSPI: A New Beginning

Jacob Getz: The Master of All Photo Trades

Cheryl Walsh's Floating World of Underwater Senior Portraits