Cleveland, Ohio-based photographer Scott Galvin is a lifelong fan and player of hockey. When Scott heard that the Youngstown Phantoms, a USHL junior hockey league team, was looking for a photographer, he sharpened his skates and jumped at the chance to take photos for a hockey organization.
He pitched the team several creative ideas for shoots and ultimately won the job. Scott initially took photos during the games. However, Phantoms’ office quickly got excited about the quality of the images and his overall enthusiasm for the team.
When he approached them with the idea for some creative portraits as marketing material, they were more than willing to work with him.
Phantoms entrusted Scott with complete creative control for the shoot and didn’t intend to disappoint. He created some ideas for the “vibe” of the portraits as well as situations he could put the players in. He developed a general sequence for poses and action shots for the players to see how they transitioned, to maximize efficiency during the shoot.
I wanted to make sure everything flowed well on the project because I hate wasting time – especially other people’s time.
Scott also sought to implement a wide variety of intrinsically interesting poses for each player. That way the images would be attention-grabbing and could be used more widely in marketing materials. Because Scott is so familiar with hockey, he abandoned his traditional method of bringing sketches of poses with him. He opted to articulate his vision verbally and coach the players through the poses.
Scott planned for 10-15 minutes with each athlete but developed a contingency plan to get the essential shots in only about 5 minutes in case of a rush. Because of the small budget the team gave him, the option of renting a vast amount of equipment was out. Using the strobes and modifiers from his kit, he staged the scenes to maximize the light’s quantity and quality.
Scott and his assistant arrived bright and early on the morning of the shoot with an SUV full of gear. They had an entire morning to set up and take the portraits but needed to wrap by 1:30 pm so the ice would be clear for practice at 2:00 pm. He arrived with sketches of the lighting arrangement and lists of gear to expedite the setup process.
In pursuit of an atmosphere befitting a “Phantom,” Scott added a smoke machine into the mix. Because they were shooting out on the cool ice, the haze naturally remained close to the ground and made for some great shots. His assistant periodically used a sheet of foam core to guide the smoke around.
The first few players to hit the ice were a bit apprehensive as they are not accustomed to being involved in a photo shoot – but they warmed up to the idea quickly.
As soon as they saw images pop up on my laptop that I was tethering to, they were all in!
Scott was able to experiment with various lighting techniques and utilized the tech he brought to add variety to the images. By adjusting the lighting directly from his camera, he achieved different effects and cycled through several setups without ever touching a single strobe.
I did anything and everything I needed to make good images. Laying on freezing ice? Sure, why not! Getting sprayed in the face with snow from a hockey stop? Bring it on. I even had a few of the players shooting pucks right past my camera and had to trust their accuracy.
Scott was ultimately able to get 10-15 images with each athlete. The young players worked quickly and took direction well. Because of the size and pace of this production, he missed some of the shots he had originally planned. However, he more than made up for it with the incredible moments he incidentally captured throughout the day.
A few of the players even had suggestions for photos as well. Two of them wanted to “fight” which gave everyone on set a good laugh.
There was little post-production work to be done because Scott typically likes to get things as close to final in the actual shot. He ended up shooting a few background plates, but kept the compositing to a minimum and spent only a short time with post-production retouching.
Scott’s images were well-received across the organization. Players were excited to see them on the big screen. Also the communications staff were proud to have great photos that other teams didn’t have.
Scott is currently in his second season with the Phantoms as the freelance team photographer. He already has plans for next year’s photo shoot in the works. He’s confident that the images will continue to get more interesting!
See more of Scott’s images on his website.