San Francisco-based photographer Alexis Cuarezma was asked to shoot the US Men’s National Soccer Team for Sports Illustrated. The catch? He had only one minute with each player, and in that time he wanted to get not one but four different shots of each player. Impossible, you say? Nope. This is how he pulled it off.
To complicate things further, the shoot was a three-part assignment.
The first part was the one already mentioned – the one where Alexis wanted to get four different shots of each of all 23 players in the US Men’s National Soccer Team.
The second part required Alexis to shoot a portrait of Clint Dimpsey AKA Captain American for the magazine cover.
The third part was a group portrait of all the German players that plays for team USA.
To complicate things even further, the shoot took place in the middle of nowhere on asphalt where there was no shade and no mains outlets.
So how did Alexis do it?
Well, as there was no mains outlets nearby, Alexis had rented a number of Profoto B4 battery packs.
“The Profotos B1’s weren’t available anywhere since they were sold-out and you couldn’t rent them so I actually ended up using all B4 packs and a few B2 packs. It was a lot of lighting gear,” writes Alexis on his blog.
On location, Alexis built a complex lighting solution that was like five-setups-in-one. Alexis then set each of the five setups to a different group setting on his radio trigger, thereby allowing himself to switch between the setups on the fly with a simple button press.
The five setups where as follows:
Part 1: 4 Different Looks in 1 Minute with 1 Lighting Setup
“What the grid does it that it focuses the light beam even more and lets everything else fall dark and gives you a beautiful dark, dramatic look, “Alexis explains in the video.
For the second look he used a Narrow Beam Reflector with 1/4 CTO to give them a slightly warm feeling. For back light, he used a Magnum Reflector with full CTB gel to make everything it hits go blue and in the bottom he used two softboxes to give some extra light.
“I normally use a snoot for this look but since we were on battery packs, I decided to use a Narrow Beam Reflector which does a similar job. But instead of losing power, it focuses the light.”, Alexis writes.
For the third look he wanted a less dramatic feeling. He was looking for a Rembrandt inspired kind of look and decided to use a Softbox.
“As you can see it’s not as dark as the Softlight Reflector and the light hits the background more.”, Alexis explains.
For the forth look his assistant hold a black board off to the side while Alexis shot the player’s profile.
“I wanted a completely different look so that’s why I had my assistant hold a black background instead of gray or white. It gives a completely different look and feel.”, Alexis writes. The profile portrait of Kyle Beckerman was one of my favorite ones. The light from the Narrow Beam Reflector looks great on his dreadlocks”.
Part 2: The Cover Shot
For the cover shot with Clint Dempsey, Alexis wanted a nice and simple bright look. For this he used four softboxes.
Part 3: The Group Shot
Finally, after photographing all the players he was ready to shoot the group portrait. In this setup, Alexis used the same look as he did with Captain America.
For a detailed version of Alexis’ shoot for Sports Illustrated, head over to his blog:
For bio and more images, you can always check out his website