SWIMMER MATT BARBER

Posted on May 14, 2010 11:27 am Categorised in: ,

A couple of weeks ago I got an assignment to photograph an up and coming high school swimming star from Kingwood, Texas. The image was going to accompany an article for the All Greater Houston section of the Houston Chronicle which is a special section highlighting outstanding high school athletes from the Houston area. After briefly looking around the internet and my magazine archive for a little inspiration, I packed up my car and drove out to Kingwood High School. On shoots like these I tend to pack way more than I end up using, but you never know what to expect and I have plenty of stories where I have said to myself, “well, we could have done this, but we forgot this.”

I gave myself plenty of time and was able to introduce myself to the swim coach as well as requisition a small conference room to set up. The Kingwood High School colors are blue which worked well with my blue backdrop. I took my time and got everything set. Since the campus was pretty much deserted, save the swim team that was in pool at the time, I was forced (as usual) to test my lighting set up on an inanimate object. Usually for larger jobs I will bring an assistant with me, but last minute, smaller, editorial jobs like this one, I am a 1 man band.

I scanned the room for something that could work as a stand-in model. A small, handheld camcorder on a tripod. It would have to work.

Camcorder as a model, photographed by Todd Spoth

when you don’t have an assistant to stand-in, you find the next best thing.

Although the camcorder was a lot smaller (and shorter) than my subject would be, it allowed me to at least get my lights and camera set somewhere in the ballpark.

By the time Matt finished up practice, I was set up and ready to go. He had a limited amount of time so we fired off the shots. I had him jump back in the pool and run back into my makeshift studio so I could capture a few frames with the water droplets on his body. We did some of him in the pool, but I really liked the set of images we did with the simple backdrop

After I got home, edited and sent my image to the newspaper, I took a look at my favorite images from the take. I liked them, but they were all very similar. I decided to challenge myself and take each and tone each a different way for different looks. Some of the edits are obviously a little much for the editorial world, but I like them. After all I am in a creative field, so dammit Im going to be creative! I like the image on the top of this post, because I think the goggles add a bit of mystery to the look, with the catchlights almost looking a bit otherworldly.

Matt was an awesome guy and very patient and willing subject. I hope he becomes the next Michael Phelps, goes to the Olympics, and earns gold. With any luck I will be right there with him photographing it.