by Maria Luci
Three days; thirty athletes. That’s the gist of Robby Klein‘s latest assignment. But that’s not what he signed up for, at least initially. In fact, the Nashville-based shooter was first asked to photograph the University of Tennessee golf team, a relatively simple shoot—but things soon intensified as the project grew from golfer portraits to shots of athletes from every UT sport. Robby was happy to take on the challenge, especially since the photos would be used in the university’s annual athletics department funding campaign.
Robby decided from the beginning that he was going to go for the “hero” shot for each athlete. This was simple enough, involving a white backdrop and proper lighting, but it was the student athletes’ schedules—and sports “props”—that were a bit more difficult to work around. Robby explains,
All of the athletes still have class, and very busy schedules, so the shoot took three days. But one of the specific challenges that came up was photographing the rower with her oar; it was probably 4-5 times the length of her, and much larger then our shooting area. It came down to shooting it in sections and piecing it together later, fairly simple. But the moment it came in, we all just kind of looked at each other and laughed.
Robby was also amused at how concerned the students were about messing up the paper backdrop. “All the athletes were wearing their appropriate footwear, the paper didn’t stand a chance. We were getting action shots as well as portraits, so we had them run across the paper. Every single one of them would start at a run and then tiptoe when they got onto the paper. The only exception was some of the women’s soccer team—they were ready to just shred that bad boy up!”
The entire assignment was incredibly enjoyable for Robby, who felt privileged to be working with such talented athletes. He adds, “when you work with top athletes from a university like UT, you’re working with some of the top athletes in the country. These players are future NFL, NBA, etc. They’re very professional and most were excited to get the opportunity to be a part of this campaign, especially since they were the person selected to represent their sport.”
The client was also excited by the final shots. They’re now using the images in a campaign sent out to thousands of prospective donors, as well as online and on wall scrolls around UT.
View more at robbyklein.com.