Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Some More Gymnastics Portraits

About a year ago I shot some portraits at The Gymnastics Revolution in West Palm Beach, FL (you can check out the blog post here). Originally I did it just for fun. Sort of  a way to combine two passions in my life: photography and gymnastics. They really liked the images and we decided to offer portraits to other members of the gym as a way to recognize the kids' hard work and to help raise money for the gym.

Fast Forward 12 months...

Since then I have done a few more portraits that now proudly hang on the gym wall. The portraits take between 1 to 2 hours to shoot as I am really trying to offer something quite different from your typical team portrait session. I tell the gymnasts to pick a pose, skill and event in which they are very good. It's better to pick a simple skill which you can do flawlessly than a more difficult skill which you can't pull off with so much confidence. For example, if you don't have your splits all the way to the floor yet, let's not take a picture of your splits. We are fortunate in gymnastics to have a lot of options when it comes to strong and powerful looking poses to photograph.

Once we have picked an event and a skill (actually we shoot a couple of different options so we can have plenty to choose from when we're done) I set up the equipment for the shots. I like to shoot with a black background for a couple of reasons. First, it's convenient. The gym itself is not the greatest background for a portrait so I make it go black to hide all the equipment that would otherwise distract from tha main interest in the picture, the gymnast. Second, it really helps to make the gymnast pop out as the main interest. When you look at the picture there is nothing else for the eye to go to other than the gymnast.

Once the plan and the lights are in place, it's time for the talent to take center stage and do their thing. The lovely Adriana is just starting out her promising career, and had some stunning poses on the balance beam.

Her brother Christian has an equally promising future in the sport. Having watched Christian practice many times, I knew he had some impressive pommel horse skills. We opted for some Thomas Flares, a relatively difficult skill to master especially at his age.

With Joseph, the choice was to show his strength and balance in a wide arm handstand on floor. He makes it look easy yet still impressive. Joseph's parallel bars skills can be seen in the silhouette at the top of this post.

Ashley was another great subject. A girl with exceptional talent in all areas, we had a hard time picking a favorite. Everyone had a different pick. This is one of my favorites from the Ashley's session.

Well, I think you get the idea. I love doing the gymnastics portraits. For me it's a way to have fun while giving back to the sport that gave, and still gives, me so much joy. It's also a great confidence booster for the athletes, and in gymnastics a little confidence goes a long way!