Sunday, 2 December 2007

Urban Rugby Calendar : The photoshoot

We arranged to meet at 8.30am on a Sunday morning in September. I was there shortly after 8am to check and prep my kit. By 8.45 there were 12 players with 2 kit bags, 2 sets of kit, a refereee, a physio and a couple of rugby balls.


The plan was to shoot in 8 locations over 4 hours using my Nikon D200 with a 17-55mm F2.8 as the lens along with 2 lightstands, a Nikon sb-800 flash and a Nikon sb-600 flash. I should point out that pretty much everything I know about small flash lighting comes from Strobist. An absolutely fantastic blog run by a guy called David Hobby. He was a photojournalist for 20 years and recently started a year's break to see where his blog, and the community which has formed around it, would take him. There's an associated Flickr Group with over 17,500 members offering an incredible array of images and weeks worth of reading in the discussion pages. Well worth a look. I'll be coming back to Strobist in future posts.


Back on track, most shots were lit with a flash unit to my left and one to my right aimed simply at the main subject. The first shot in this post is a setup shot for the lineout lift. I've used a simple crosslighting setup. One flash front left and one back right as shown in the shot above. When done properly it makes for really dramatic light. One of the best examples I've seen of crosslighting is the State of the Nation blog. He uses sunlight as one light and sets up his flash directly opposite to produce some great images.


I'm not going to run through every shot but a few things are worth mentioning just for the fun of it. One of the first shots of the day was made on a zebra crossing. The main subject was on the pavement on the far side of the road making it look like he was about to throw the ball in..... Once I was ready we had to check the traffic, get everybody to run out in to the road, make the image and clear them away. Luckily at that time on a Sunday morning it wasn't too busy but it was good fun. It was pretty quiet at that time but by the time we got to Tunbridge Wells Station for the stud check on the platform it was getting busier. Lots of attention from the other platform and I think it's fair to say the lads were starting to have fun (hopefully). We shot the picnic in Grove Park.... One of the lads popped into The Compasses pub and asked if we could shoot inside. This was at 10.30am on a Sunday. The landlord was great and even ended up sponsoring a month for us. On to the Pantiles which by this time was really busy. There was a craft fair going on as well which was unexpected so all in all it was probably the most challenging place to shoot, but the results were good.


It was a fantastic morning and although all of the images on this post are outtakes they show that it was a lot of fun and the end result looks good

Urban Rugby Calendar : From start to finish!

1 rugby club, 1 photographer, 3 meetings, over 100 emails and 5 months later we have 12 photos and 1 calendar.


In mid-July I had a conversation with a few of the lads from Tunbridge Wells Rugby Club about the possibility of shooting a fundraising calendar for the club. We discussed various options but no decisions were made right then. I went away and thought about it for a while and went back with the idea of combining 'Tunbridge Wells' with 'rugby' to make 'Urban rugby'. The thought behind it was to produce something which would have appeal beyond just Tunbridge Wells and also raise the club's profile. We agreed on it and started planning.

Once we'd decided that we were going to take rugby set pieces and shoot them in the town centre we realised that we'd need permits. The first step was to decide what we'd shoot and where we wanted to shoot it. Once we'd sorted that out we approached Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for the majority of the permits. We also got permission through Ibbet Mosely to shoot in the Pantiles and through South Eastern Railways to shoot at Tunbridge Wells Station.

Pantiles Urban Rugby

By the time we had planned the shoot and organised the permits it was early September. I went out and took some scouting shots on the 9th and we shot the calendar on the 16th. It's fair to say I was concerned about how many players would turn up at 8.30am on a Sunday morning after a hard match on the Saturday afternoon but it worked well. We had 12 players and we shot at 8 locations in just under 4 hours. There'll be another post for the shoot itself. The following week I prepped the shots and Tom Callaway and I picked our final 12. After that it was a matter of putting it all together in Photoshop. I haven't put a calendar together before and I know now that Photoshop isn't ideally suited to it, but the final calendar looks great.

After getting quotes from various companies for print costs we chose a local printer Vision Printers who were absolutely fantastic with the level of support and advice they offered. They also turned around the print order in 4 days when we finally got to that stage. We did realise by now that we would need page sponsors to fund the print costs and Tom Callaway organised those pretty quickly. I then designed most of the ads, dropped them into the calendar and it went off to print.


We collected the calendars on Friday and now we just have to sell them! It's been an interesting process, and it's taught me a lot. I know that if I ever have to put another one of these together it'll be a smoother and much faster process, and I'd certainly start prepping much earlier in the year next time.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Start at the beginning

I've been thinking about doing this for a while.

I spend a significant amount of time reading photography blogs and trying to take on board anything that may improve my own skills as a photographer. I've learned so much over the last few years that I figured it was time to put a little of it down and maybe help a few other photographers advance their own skillset.

I've got my favourite blogs and I'm sure I'll be quoting them on a regular basis. My idea at the moment is to reference a favourite blog once a week and to post some of my own work as and when it seems appropriate. Pretty much I'll be making it up as I go along and I'm sure this will take on a direction of its own. I'm not a natural writer so excuse me if I'm not always as succinct as I should be!

I've been taking photography seriously for the past four years or so. When I was a teenager I had an old Zenit SLR which I loved. Once I hit my early 20s it seemed there were more important things to be doing so I put it away. Once dSLRs got to a reasonable price I bought a Nikon D70 and practiced. I shot 30,000 frames in the first year I had it and about 60,000 the year after. That's since been replaced by a D200. I started initially shooting for fun.... Portraits and Landscapes. Before long it all seemed a little boring and simple (although looking back at the standard I was shooting it clearly wasn't as simple as I thought!) so I approached Tunbridge Wells Rugby Club, where both my brothers had played in the late '80s, for something a little more challenging to shoot. There were still people there that I knew from that time and before long I was shooting each Saturday afternoon and loving it. I decided to cover the Minis and Midis on Sunday mornings on an occasional basis and before long I was being asked if I did other kinds of photography.

I've been studying 20 - 30 hours a week for the last 4 years as well as shooting whenever I can and that's led me to the point where now I have a small studio and, although I still shoot rugby at the weekends for fun, I now do Portraiture, PR and Corporate Photography during the week.