The freestyle football experience



End of May, and strangely in my head, every year I believe sunny days are definitely here. This year was tough, because I'm basically an outdoor shooter, and so since I live in the northeastern side of France between November and April, it can be a huge challenge working outside. Snow, wind, rain, and low temperatures are amongst the few drawbacks that come along with living in that part of the country. I'm not complaining, because there are people dealing with weather conditions that are worst than mine, but even if I believe a lot could be done (artistically) with these weathers, try and convince dancers to pose and move and leotards in these conditions.


So here I am, ready to go to Paris for a few photoshoots. One, in particular, was important for me because it was a little different from the things I usually do. Gautier Fayolle is a four-time World Freestyle Football Routine Champion, and we decided to combine our skills in Paris to create pictures in the style of my series originally dedicated to dancers: "Inmotion".


We're all set and the shooting was planned for a Tuesday morning in the streets of Paris. Unfortunately, as the day arrived the weather started to dramatically change. Rain was on its way so I had to quickly find a last-minute location to shoot. Lucky for me my friends from the Museum of art and history we're able to welcome us once again for an entire morning.


The setup was easy, I had to travel light and work with the minimum equipment. I worked that day with a 60 x 100 softbox, and a broncolor move 1200L. Like always, power was needed there to achieve that dark edgy look I usually crave for. We started outside because we had a bit of sun that morning. It was almost 10:30 am so the sun was getting up and hitting stronger ad the day unraveled. To pull out a dark look like in this picture I had to rely on my lighting. I pulled down my exposure to have the whole scene underexposed, and compensated with the flash to light my model.

I often do this when I'm forced to shoot in mid-day. Sun is harsh and not ideally placed, so to pull down the ambient light and compensate for some unflattering hard shadows you can use artificial light. The broncolor move is perfect for this type of situation because of the power available inside this small unit.


The Flash was hidden behind the left column and since it was on the side, it gave that almost "split" effect on Gautier. The flash duration of the Broncolor was set to a minimum in order to freeze the action. Although we can see a slight motion blur on the ball, Gautier is perfectly frozen in time.


5D mark III / 24 - 70mm mark II 2.8 ISO 160 F5,6 1/200



For this second picture, we were in full shade, which was easier technically for me to set up. The picture was easy to pull out because Gautier wasn't really in motion this time but just posing on the ball. In terms of light placement, I didn't have a dozen options. I wanted to use the door as a natural frame and the only way to light my scene without seeing the flash was to place it (again) behind the left or right column. Once we decided which pose we wanted, the left option was obvious.


Canon 5D mark III / 24-70 mm mark II 2.8 ISO 160 F6,3 1/200



After this picture, it started raining! So we quickly moved inside to continue our session. I wanted to get close, and have sort of an unreal feel to my shot. So I used my wide-angle lens (16-35mm) and played with the distortion to achieve the look I wanted. First, my goal was to play with the distortion of the lines of the columns and the window, and 2nd the light was positioned to project Gautier's shadow against the wall. Timing was crucial because the movement was brief, but after a couple of tries, we nailed it.


Canon 5D mark III / 16-35 mm 2.8 ISO 200 F7,1 1/200


I just placed the light to have the shadow visible on the wall and asked Gautier to perform his move in order to open the major part of his body towards the light. No ambient light was used here because the flash was giving it all. I used to do this with Speedlites but was limited by the output power. Here, thanks to the Broncolor move, I was able to try all sorts of scenarios.

For the last image, I wanted to "cheat" a little bit. It is something I used to do in my early days in photography, and that I avoid doing today because I try to always do everything in-camera. It was nearly impossible to shoot Gautier in the middle of the chapel without having the flash in the way. So I decided to capture both individually. First, I photographed Gautier with the flash and softbox. The flash placed on his left side was used just to give him that little "pop". And I then took a second picture of the empty space and merged everything in Photoshop!


Canon 5D mark III / 16-35mm 2.8 IS0 320 F3,2 1/100




I will never say it enough that, sometimes, one light is just enough. And here we were able once again to make great images with the minimum crew and equipment.

I have to thank the museum of art and history for kindly welcoming us again. I also want to thank the Broncolor team in Paris for helping me out during this week. And last but not least thanks to Tom for assisting me at the very last minute.