Calling all baseball fans: it’s spring training time! March 31 marks the opening day, and the beginning of a brand new spell of America’s favorite pastime. In the spirit of the season, Florida-based editorial and portrait photographer Bob Croslin was recently contacted by Sports Illustrated to photograph Florida Marlins’ pitcher and National League Rookie of the year José Fernández for their February issue. Although he has shot for just about every other sports magazine, this was Bob’s first shoot for SI, happened to fit his style perfectly and was right in his backyard.
As Bob pointed out, it’s usually more fun to work with professional athletes who are just starting out, as opposed to experienced athletes who may not have the time or interest in getting fun and creative on set. Because Jose has only been a major leaguer for a few seasons (although his talent stretches far beyond that), Bob had fun collaborating with him to create a photo story, saying that Jose was willing to take risks and work outside of his comfort zone.
With this story, Sports Illustrated wanted to show how hard Jose has been working out in the off-season to demonstrate that he’s serious about this career and the baseball world should expect to see a lot more of him in the coming years. Bob said that the shots of Jose working out took as much energy out of him and the crew as it did Jose:
The day we shot Jose working out was almost as much of a workout for my team as it was for him. We lit some of his workout when possible which included capturing Jose and 3 other baseball players pushing his Lexus SUV around a high school track. We ran as much as Jose did and we were wiped out by the end of it. I had one assistant running ahead with a Profoto 600b lighting the front of the car and one assistant running behind with another 600b lighting Jose. It must have looked hilarious to the high school kids who were standing around watching.
The weather presented a major challenge for the crew, as the shoot was scheduled during the “polar vortex” that resulted in 3 weeks of non-stop rain in Florida. The shoot was completely rained out twice and required some flexibility on everyone’s part.
Bob also shot some relaxed photos of Jose on the beach, saying that the young star took time to stop and talk to every fan that recognized him, along with posing for photos and signing autographs.
Turns out Bob found some common ground with Jose, as they are both serious cyclists in their time off. Bob was happy to make plans with him to pedal the hills of Tampa once the MLB season comes to an end.