Earlier this year, Annabelle Myers, NCSU associate athletic director for athletic communications, talked with me in her office about the athletic department’s vision for the 2007 media cover. They were inspired by the cover for the DVD to the TV series The Closer and wanted to bring the concept to our cover. The goal was to have Coach O’Brien at the forefront, with his hands planted on a reflective conference room table, and the players behind him. I was excited about their idea. It is always great to have a client that thinks outside of the box and wants to try new ideas.
The photo shoot took place at the Murphy Football Center in the TV studio that has a green screen installed. Wolfpack fans are familiar with this studio as this is where the coach’s weekly show is filmed. The green screen facilitated the process of photoshopping out the background around the players and placing them onto a solid black medium.
I packed every single light and light modifier that I had in my arsenal. The shoot was not overly complex, but I expected it would require a lot of light modification. Indeed it did. We used anywhere between three and four lights utilizing softboxes, grids and snoots.
We photographed Coach O’Brien first. The first challenge was finding a table that was high enough for him to lean on, and had a good reflectivity so that his hands would reflect. Annabelle, Pat Norris (also of sports information), Rob Bradley (my friend who was helping) and I scratched our heads for about 10 minutes trying to find a strategy. We finally settled on the coffee table that appears on the weekly coach’s show as a prop. We raised the table by stacking it on top a couple crates and boxes. It was ingenuity at its best; although coach had to be careful to lean too hard on the table or it would tip over. Marcus Stone Media Guide
We had to work a couple angles and ask coach to move his hands in different places before we finally found just the right angle to that had the perfect reflection and perspective. Coach was very pleasant to work with and patient as we moved him around literally inch by inch. After we finished with Coach O’Brien, we photographed the six seniors that are pictured on the front. Each player was photographed seperatly because there was not enough room to photograph them as a group in the room. Also, we wanted to light each person slightly differently to the final image would not look flat.
For the back cover, we photographed the remaining seniors including Marcus Stone, pictured on the right. Marcus is smiling because Annabelle was able to get the always stoic Marcus to actually crack a smile.
(Quick note, the back cover is missing one person because we had one player not show up. I photographed him about 3 weeks later, but he did not make the pre-production mock-up that Annabelle sent me. The final printed version obviously has him.)