Legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka made an appearance in a Boost mobile ad during yesterday’s Super Bowl, in which his (one-time) New Orleans Saints went marching out with a victory. 25 years after he led the Chicago Bears to a raucous Superbowl win, Da Coach still is the man for many Bears fans. My one portrait of him was not made in a studio with an art director, agents, and assistants scurrying around serving everyone’s needs over a sumptuous buffet, with 3-4 setups ready to go. As with most newspaper portraits, this shoot was no-frills – it lasted about 45 seconds in the corner of his steakhouse right after an interview. I had two direct flashes pointed directly at him from both sides – why would you put a softbox on a gritty character like Ditka? A few frames, and then he had to go. Of the many quickie portraits I’ve made of famous people, this one worked out better than most.
Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs announces the start of a Christmas shopping spree for 30 high-achieving but needy children who live in CHA homes. His “Briggs for Kids” charity gives out $200 gift cards each from Target. Although not all the kids knew exactly what he did for the Bears – “are you a running back?” – my guess is they won’t ever forget the experience. As a child at about their same age, I was given the opportunity to meet Walter Payton, Bob Avellini, Gary Fencik and other Bears players in their locker room after practice. I still remember being grabbed and whipped around playfully by Vince Evans. My guess is that years after their toys fall apart, their clothes are too small, and their games lose their appeal, these kids will still remember thirty years later the Bear-size hug and handshake from a real live action hero.
On a previous post you saw the scene where I photographed quickie portraits of Olympic hopefuls in Chicago at the Palmer House in a room crowded with athletes and other photographers. These were some of the more interesting photos from the bunch. I shot all of them in a vertical format with a tilt-shift lens while using a ringflash. Just a little cumbersome, especially when you only have a couple minutes of shooting time. I also wanted to create a cyan-bluish tone to the images, to create a sense of winter cold. To do so, I used a cyan colored background. The reason it appears white in the photos is because I overexposed it. The white then dissolved into a cyan as the light fell off the subjects – creating a cold edge. It’s a slight effect. You can see that more in the images of athletes wearing dark colors, or in the duo at bottom. All in all, I enjoyed the process. I was really struck at how the personas of the athletes tended to come out in their pictures, especially among those who have participated in previous Olympics. I also could see how those personas might possibly outlive their Olympic experiences and endear them to millions around the world.
A few posts back, I wrote about transforming a hum-drum scene. In that case, it was through the use of underexposure of sky, and the careful placement of strobes to accentuate the relevant parts of an image. Here I’m on the same subject, but am transforming the scene through the use of collage. It can be a technique that can be hackneyed if not used appropriately. I’m reminded of Gregory Heisler’s term “the appropriate response” when it comes to choosing the method that works best with the subject at hand. With discus-throwing there are so many grunts-thrusts-jerks-spins-and-grimaces that one photo doesn’t capture them well, and neither does a stand-far back-with-a-wide-angle burst of shutterfire. You need to be in his space to see the ripples and sinews of shirt and skin all building up to that one moment of discus release which doesn’t necessarily have to be seen in order to be in awe of..