Pensacola, Fla.-based editorial and advertising photographer Matthew Coughlin received a stock request from the Wonderful Machine stockbox. The email was sent on a Friday for a Monday deadline, and Matthew didn’t have any images that matched the request.
So what did he do? He created some.
The request was for Sports Illustrated, needing images of a baseball player swinging a bat in a multi-stage progression. For Matthew, this was a perfect opportunity. He loves shooting sports, knew what the researcher was looking for, and wanted to create his own interpretation of it.
The original request came from Anastasia Pleasant, Photo Producer and Editor, whom Matthew has worked for in the past. She had great things to say about him (as well as some Wonderful Machine love!), which Matthew was kind enough to share with us:
I contacted Sean Stone at Wonderful Machine to send an email blast out to the photographers, as I have found cool images for different projects this way before. I find Wonderful Machine a WONDERFUL RESOURCE!! While waiting, I researched the usual stock sources and came up with nothing. After reaching out to some more people in the industry, I still found only similar shots that were of other sports, no baseball swings. Then, I got your email with your WONDERFUL and AMAZING shot you did on spec! Both the Director of Design and I were blown away and are now your biggest fans. – Anastasia Pleasant/ Photo Producer & Editor
As one could imagine, this shoot was not easy for Matthew, as he had never shot anything like it before. He explained the process:
I had an idea in my head of how I was going to approach it but it was all experimental. Overcoming that challenge was a lot of planning and understanding the limitations of what I could and could not do with my equipment. Also having a subject who could pull off what i needed him to do and take direction very well was a key component to making this successful.
And then there was the time constraint. After making the decision to create these images, Matthew dove right into planning. He rented space in a community center gym and got in touch with a local high school baseball coach who connected him with Garrett Peek, a high school baseball player. Garrett was excited about the project and immediately got his uniform out of storage. (From high school storage to a shot in Sports Illustrated…not bad!)
Matthew then planned out his lighting scheme, shooting on a white seamless with strobes. After multiple shots from various angles, he was satisfied. He sent them over to Sports Illustrated, received quick positive feedback, and they were in business.
Matthew shot this simply based on the hope that SI might be interested in it. At the end of the day, they covered the cost of production, plus retouch and revision time. He was also happy to be working hands-on with the Sports Illustrated Design Director, Greg Leeds. Matthew has been itching to share the images, and has received a positive reaction so far, saying: “to be published in a magazine that is on the top of your list to shoot for and then waiting to share your work until it’s published is like counting down the days until Christmas as a kid.”
Merry Christmas, Matthew!