From the course: Portrait Photography: Sports Portraits on LinkedIn Learning


Composing for the team shot from Portrait Photography: Sports Portraits by Robert Vanelli

All teams love having a team portrait but, you know what, putting about 15 kids—especially teenagers—in one straight line to get the shot perfect is extremely challenging. So what we’re going to do instead is have our players pose as if they’re standing in line all the way through, using three different types of poses. One is the person who’s going to be forward, another one holding the stick in one hand, and then the other hand. And by doing that we’re going to make the composition of the entire team look incredible.

So let’s get started on that. I’m going to have Andrew hold the stick in his left hand, and the reason why we’re doing this is that we’re going to pretend we have a whole line of people off to the left side. And as he’s holding the stick here, looking straight ahead, I can take the next person and put him right next to him all the way down through. But then we get to the other end, he’s going to have the stick in this hand. When I first came up with this concept it was because Photoshop has lots of great features to it, and one of them is being able to flip the image. I thought, “Hey, what the heck. I’ll shoot everyone just like this and I don’t have to worry about it, I’ll just flip it in Photoshop.”

Well, I did. But what I didn’t realize is that I also flipped the logo and the number, so it came off as totally fake. So we’re going to fix that by having him hold it three ways: one left, one right, and then no stick whatsoever as if he’s the middle person.

It would sound something like this: “So let’s start here, Andrew. Look straight ahead at the camera. You have all your teammates next to you. Good. Now shift over just a little bit. Come over a bit forward. Pull that stick back, just around the back.

“Perfect right there, my man. Now, ready? Hold it. Good, that’s it. You’re going to be the most intense one on the team. Ready? Eyes on me. That’s awesome. Swap hands. Good, bring it up just a little. Right there, now bring it in, just a touch, and out towards me. Great, great, now don’t move. Let me just move that little piece out of the way. Well, that’s something I can easily fix in Photoshop. But why not fix it in camera? There we go.

“Beautiful. Ready to look at me? Good. Sweet. Now just put that down. Good. Now pretend you’re in the middle, so you have one guy on the left of you holding the stick, the other guy on the right of you holding the stick, now you’re right in the middle ‘cuz you’re kinda the team captain. Come forward, good. Arms out, a little a bit wide. Perfect right there. Awesome. That came out great.”

So with just a little bit of planning, we’re going to be able to compose the entire team together and it’ll look incredible. By having an individual the way I just did, I can swap out who’s the lead person. In this case, I said that Drew was the captain. If I needed to, I could move Drew out of the lead spot, put somebody else into the lead spot, and let’s say, Bad Brad, we’ll put Bad Brad. “…What’s the name of your team? The Prospects? Bad Brad and the Prospects.” Then pick Brad out of the image and put Andrew in there and I’ll say, “Andrew and the Prospects. You’d love that, wouldn’t you?”

That makes him look like the captain. Parents love it, the coaches love it, and, most importantly, the players love it.

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