Senior Athletic Portraiture – Why we love it…

Kasi 5

Most everyone who is familiar with our work knows us for our wildlife photography, but we also have a profound love for shooting sports.  Actually it’s the athletes that we come to know that makes it a “profound” love of shooting sports.  We see them work hard, aspiring to get better, the preparation, the games and the emotions of both their successes and defeats makes it impossible to maintain a “distant” relationship with them.  We really care about these athletes and feel the joys of their success and share the pain of their losses. Last year we decided that we would do some athletic portraiture for a few of the athletes that we’ve come to know and have shot action for. We felt like after seeing them throughout the season, we had some insight into what would make the best portraits for these particular athletes.  The other advantage I felt we had was that as we shot the young men and women throughout the year there are what I call “moments of inspiration” where we would notice something an athlete does or says and think, “you know, a shot like…. would be really cool.” So I make a note of it and begin to plan for the shot.  I think the better you know the athlete, the better your chances of “revealing” who that person is through a image, are greatly improved. So Val and I decided to only shoot a very few athletes this past year so that we would be able to devote appropriate time to each athlete. Below are a few of my favorite images from some of those athletes along with a little bit of the stories that make those images and the people special to us.


Kasi II

Val and I have been drawn to Kasi since we met her a few years ago as a cheelearder at Central. If I had to describe her in a short sentence, I have to say “vibrant, caring and fun”. I can’t imaging anyone knowing Kasi without loving her.  Her infectious smile and personality always leave you feeling like you just spent a moment with that best friend that you don’t get to see as much as you’d like. Some of my favorite candid shots from the last few years at Central have been of Kasi.  Moments ranging from quite and thoughtful to a beautiful kind of silly. I was thrilled to be asked to shoot her portraits by her mother Nikki.  I thought, “There is no way anyone can take a bad shot of her, even I can’t screw this up!”  As it turns out, I was right.  Every shot of Kasi was beautiful. My challenge was showing the side of her that we knew through these portraits. I wanted to show no only the fun side of Kasi but I also wanted to make sure that I could capture the more quiet and thoughtful side of her that we’d seen at times when she didn’t know we were watching. Getting past her natural smile that always seems to come around people, and easing into those quite moments was a challenge I knew we’d have but she made it as “easy as pie”.  Kasi is a beautiful girl inside and out. We will miss as she moves on to bigger and better things. We feel blessed to have crossed paths with her and her family.

The Journey Continues…

The Journey Continues…

The image of Kasi on the dirt road above in her Cheerleader uniform is one that I had planned for months.  I wanted an image that represented her moving from this phase of her life into the next.  Looking back at the camera in her uniform on a long dirt road would be perfect if I could get the right conditions and if I could jump through a few technical hurdles like balancing lighting with the ambient light in the last few minutes before dark.  We met late in the afternoon and shot some images in a field of yellow flowers. When the sky started to turn overcast we were almost done in the fields and at first I was a little disappointed in how the grey light was changing the scene. But I recognized that because of the clouds and their posistion in the sky, there was the possibility of a really spectacular sunset. We had the shots we wanted and the sun was setting quickly, so we jumped in the cars and flew to the next spot. We only had moments to pull this off so I drove pretty fast with Nikki and Kasi following behind.  I don’t know how fast we were going on that bumpy gravel road but somehow Kasi managed to change into her cheerleader uniform while bouncing around in the back of their vehicle.  We arrived at the spot I’d planned to shoot at just as the sky started to show some color.  We jumped out, set up and began to shoot.  Just 7 minutes later, the beautiful sky was gone. The image above is one of the shots we got.  A few people have commented to us, and to them, that they like the “photoshopped” sky.  They’re wrong, the sky was God’s work, we were just blessed to be there with Kasi and Nikki when it happened.

Kasi 3

More images of Kasi:


Bailey is without question one of my favorite athletes at any level.  If I was picking a team for any sport, men or women, I would pick her without question.  I know that at some point in the game, any game, she will make an impact and make you regret not having her on your team.  She’s like a Coach/Quarterback/Go-To-Player all in one and beautiful to boot! Never quits, works hard, plays hard, dives for EVERY ball and does it with the attitude that every coach wants. She’s definitely one of my favorite athletes to ever come through high school sports. We’ve seen some remarkable things from this young woman but there is no doubt that the best is yet to come from her.  She’s signed with UNA softball and I’m thankful that I’ll be able to keep shooting her as she continues there as part of our work with UNA athletics.

When her mother Michelle asked us to do her Senior portraits, we were pretty excited.  It was late in the year and I’d hoped to be able to shoot her portraits and had a lot of ideas already in my sketchbook. It was really a lot of fun to shoot and the images came easy and turned out every bit as good as we’d hoped.  Actually, they were better than we hoped, but I attribute that to Bailey and not our cameras. One of the things that I’d noticed about Bailey throughout the year was her drive to compete and it was always evident in her eyes.  It reminded me of the same gaze that an eagle has. Calculated and purposeful, oblivious to obstacles or excuses, determining the best way to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness and use it to beat them. We thought it was critical to show this and I believe we succeeded in some of the images, I really think it’s represented well in her eyes in the image above.

Bailey 2

The other side of Bailey that we wanted to show was her softer side.  I have to admit, we were both a little surprised at just how beautiful she really was.  We usually saw her in a dusty softball uniform or running up and down the basketball court. We were very familiar with the athletic Bailey, but the softer side of Bailey was incredibly beautiful.  The eyes that reflected so much determination and drive in competition were a stunning beautiful blue in her portraiture. As we shot that afternoon, we were continuously amazed at the beautiful side of Bailey. We worked with Bailey and her mother Michelle for a little more than 5 hours that afternoon and time flew by, feeling more like an hour than an afternoon.

Bailey 3

More images of Bailey are at:


Next Challenge

Next Challenge

When we were asked to shoot a short session with Nic by his mother Brayde, we were excited but a little apprehensive at first. The apprehension wasn’t about Nic, but more about making sure we could deliver images that were reflective of who he is.  Nic ran cross country which we weren’t able to shoot because of football commitments at Central and UNA, so we missed that season completely.  He’s a great baseball player, but we missed the early part of that season as well, so we didn’t have a lot of opportunity with him there either.  However, after getting to shoot a few games and spending a little time with him, it was easy to develop a plan for the shoot. Nic is also one of those type of athletes that you want to make sure is on your team.  He received several awards at Central this year and was very deserving of each of those. “Clutch” is probably the best way to describe him. Nic is one of those players that keeps himself and others focused on what matters and pushes everyone toward the goal of getting better and winning. Probably the best baseball play I saw all year was a play where Nic dove for a hard hit ball at second base, fielded the ball and made a rocket throw to first from his knees while falling away.  Great play, no showboating, business as usual. He expected to make the play, made the play, next play…. My challenge was going to be how to show this “Business as usual, great future, exceptional ability and leadership, personality in an image.  I thought, “you know, a shot on the field in a suit with a baseball bat and helmet, blue sky, baseball field and a driven stare, that’s what I want to show”.  When you look at the image above, I hope you can see not only the athlete in the image but the certainty of a successful future because of what, we who know him, know he’ll do to secure it.

Nick Kayaking The image above shows Nic in one of his favorite pastimes, Kayaking.  This shot was a challenge since it involved shooting and setting up lights all waist deep in Cypress Creek.  It was somewhat risky to set up in the creek, since camera equipment doesn’t react well to being wet, but I believe the image was well worth the effort. More images are at:


Colby 1

We’d not spent a lot of time with Colby before our first shoot but we’d been around him enough to know that we really liked him.  A very polite and respectful young man who is well thought of by his coaches and peers, he’s easy to like.  He reminds me a lot of myself when I was young in that he loves hunting, fishing and the outdoors like I did.  Colby’s an excellent cross country and baseball athlete but his true love seemed to be the outdoors.  So that’s where we started. We spent an afternoon at their family cabin on a small lake.  The skies were extremely overcast and what had been warm weather for several days, turned cold and windy.  The cloudy skies yielded a nice sunset with just enough subtle color to add some drama to a few shots just before dark.  His graduation gift from his parents was a new Ford F150 of which he is proud of.  We moved it into a field and began to shoot just as the light began to fade.  Above is one of my favorite images of that shoot. The shot below is also one of my favorites.  I love Golden Retrievers and they have one that seemed to enjoy being in the spotlight.  This is a candid shot that the dog decided to photo-bomb but it turned out to be one of my favorites of the day.

Colby 2

We still have another session scheduled to complete the session when our schedules will accomodate each other.  We’re looking forward to it a lot. More images of Colby:


Evan is one of those athletes that you hated to play against. He’s the guy on the other team that just keeps pounding you until you begin to question your own resolve. After you begin to tire and let up just a little, he takes advantage of it and makes you pay. Evan is a tough, very hard working and smart young man with an extremely bright future ahead of him. An excellent Football and Tennis player, Evan is one of those kind of athletes that could compete at any sport he wanted to. We’d been around Evan a lot but it had always been under game circumstances so we didn’t know a lot about his interests outside of sports and school.  Turns out, he’s a lot of fun to be around and we were able to identify with him pretty quickly. One of the images that I had in mind for Evan was a locker room shot that would reflect the toughness and grit that he played with.  Those images were where we started the shoot and my favorite of those is the images are above. Another is the image below.  Note the sandals in the image.  I like the sandals because even though Evan is a really tough competitor, he also has a very easy-going casual side and likes to play as hard as he works. To me, and I think to all of the folks that know Evan, the sandals remind us of that and make sense in the images.

Evan 1

One of the other shots we wanted to capture was a nice sunset image.  After the success we had with Kasi’s sunset image, I was eager to get another.  Having said that, it’s much harder to pull off that you might think and of course you need to start with of course… a great sunset.  So we set up a shoot a couple of days after the locker room shoot and headed out to shoot some images late in the afternoon with one eye on the sky watching for that great sunset.  As it got late, there were only a very few clouds in the sky but incredibly, they were in a position where the sun would set behind them.  We scrambled to get into posistion and set up.  It couldn’t have been better.  For the last few minutes before dark we were blessed with the best outdoor backdrops that you could possibly ask for.  Below are a couple of images from those few minutes.

Evan Sunset

My other favorite image is the shot that I like to do that illustrates their leaving one period in their life and moving toward the next.  However, I have to give most of the credit to Evan himself on this shot.  During the few moments of the sunset, he swung around on the rail with his back toward me and facing into the sunset.  I thought that was a perfect image so I adjusted and shot it.  The shot below is the result and one of my favorite images of the year.

Evan 4

Evan has more images available in his gallery but there are still a few more to be posted as well:

As we prepare for the year to come, I’m excited about some of the athletes that have already asked to work with us and there a more that I hope to work with. If you’re interested in working with us this year, please let me know as quickly as you can. The sooner I know, the more brainstorming I can do to plan the shoots and I don’t want to commit to too many athletes and get spread too thin. I’d also like to know who we’re shooting senior portraits for early so that we can keep one-eye on them during the different events and catch some of those special moments that might go unnoticed otherwise.  I’m working on pricing for this year and hope to have it finalized this week.  I’ll post it here when I do.  We’re preparing to purchase a new printer and as soon as I have those costs figured in, I can set up a new fee schedule.  If you’re interested in working with us for portraiture, or for action, send me an email at: Thank you, Joe

••• UPDATE •••
Val and I have finally come up with some pricing for the Senior photos.  The order for the new printer has been placed and we have a pretty good idea of what we’d like to do for the athletes this year.  We’ve decided to break-up everything into 3 different options.

Package 1: $250 ($100 Print/Media Credit included):.  This package consists of a single session, usually two hours or so depending on the light.  I’m not a stickler for time as I’m usually the one who wants to keep shooting until everything is just right.  But usually this session lasts a couple of hours or so, there are no other limitations with this package. As many locations, changes or poses as we can get done in that time.

Package 2: $400 ($150 Print/Media Credit included): This package usually consists of 2, 2 hour sessions or a long afternoon (4-5 hours).  No limit on locations, outfits or poses.

Package 3: $650 ($250 Print/Media Credit included): This is what I think of as our “Adoption” package and the one I prefer to do.  It includes multiple shoots throughout the year as good photo opportunities arise. It also includes a CD at the end of the year with any action photos that we may have taken during the year.  (UNA and Central have already filled our football schedule for 2014/2015 unless there is an open week or if you have a Thurs/Sat game) but if your athlete doesn’t play at one of those schools, let us know and I’ll try to make a game or two of their games if at all possible.  I like to do that anyway as it helps me figure out shots that I think work well for them.

Package 4: Well there really is no package 4 but if you need something that doesn’t fit into one of these other categories, please ask.  I don’t want anyone who wants to work with us to be left out.  If you want to work with us, I want to work with you.  We’ll figure the rest out later.

All packages include professional retouching.  I’ve been doing professional retouching and color correction for about 25 years now and insist on doing it myself.  I also print my own prints on a the highest quality available Canon professional large format printer.  I’m extremely picky about my images and prints and would never deliver anything that I’m not proud of.

Thanks and please let me know if you have any questions.

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