Turning Up the Intensity on Sporty Senior Portraits Using Only One Light [RF Video of the Week]

August 28, 2015

By RF Staff

Senior portraits don't always have to be shot at the golden hour of the day—photographers like Matt Hernandez, based in Kentucky, are breaking the mold and showing that you don't need to dodge the night.

In collaboration with Westcott, he made a video showing how to shoot a dramatic, sporty senior portrait at dusk using just one light: the Zeppelin 59-inch Parabolic Softbox.

Hernandez explains how and why he uses this softbox in the video, but he also shared extra tips on how to get some powerful sports portraits of high school seniors:

1. Use a wide lens and get low. "Keep in mind when shooting this type of dramatic style for athletes that you want them to look as powerful as possible," the photographer explains, "so I took this with a 14-24mm. Kneeling down is always good, but actually laying on the ground can really help make the image as dramatic as possible. If you want them to look like a superhero, don’t be afraid to get dirty and lay down!"

2. Turn up the heat. "Making athletes look sweaty for dramatic sports photos can add an extra element," he says. "While we were setting up the shot, I had my model run a little and do some push-ups. That got some natural sweat going and made the image more intense. You can also apply cooking spray or baby oil (the spray kind, not the gel) to the athletes skin to enhance the look."

3. Add realistic elements. "When possible, I try to get the lights turned on at the field I’m shooting at," Hernandez says. "Putting those in the background gives another element of realism and dimension. If you can’t get the lights on you can always do that in Photoshop, but that takes up more time—and nothing will ever look as good as the real thing!"

Check out more Videos of the Week, and email Libby Peterson with submissions.