Hannover 96 Fußball

New work from a recent Hannover 96 Fußball production. We spent a day working  with the Hannover athletes to capture their 2011 promotional images. This particular picture was the second set up of the morning. The athletes were sort of just waking up. Direction for this picture was to capture all four athletes at the same time in a full on celebration. Of course I said 'no problem, we can shoot four guys at the same time'. In the back of my mind I was thinking this would be a difficult picture. Getting one athlete in motion under studio lights to look real is hard enough; Getting four athletes to pull off believable celebration looks all at the same time is next to impossible. Long story short. We set the lights up. I gave the guys direction. We nailed it on the 3rd shot. I was very much amazed.

Art Direction Moritz von Graevenitz. Athletes: Sergio Pinto, Steven Cherundolo, Didier Ya Konan,  Emanuel Pogatetz

Photo Slideshow

Testing out a new jQuery photo slider that I may build into my website. Feedback welcome!
The very clean design and coding of this slider was created by Sam Dunn.

Rugby World Cover

Rugby World cover shot. Very very cool to get the cover shot for this mag during a world cup year.

Athletes: Shane Williams, Sam Warburton, Ryan Jones, Stephen Jones | Art Direction: Kevin Eason

ASM Clermont Auvergne 2012 Jersey Launch

It's official. ASM Rugby nouveau maillot 2012! ASM Clermont Rugby launched their new jersey and I finally get to post a few pics from this shoot. Here is a quick selection showing a few of the different setups we put together during the shoot. We shot on location in Clermont, France. Tight planning and great teamwork helped us pull off three locations. 

Jamie CUDMORE, Aurélien ROUGERIE, Anthony FLOCH, Julien PIERRE
We need to get the 'making of' film online for this shoot. I shot these close encounters with Jamie with a wide lens. He had to come at me pretty hard and close to get the effect we were looking for. Needless to say I ducked like a wussy when he came in. Looking through the lens of my camera it felt like he was going to crush me. Hope that comes through in the photo. This image is by no means polished. Just one that I really like. BOOM!

16TH Man

The Welsh Ruby Union 16TH man campaign is a go! Here's a first look at one of the images. These images are part of a busy week of production we had at the Barn last month. More to come.

Welsh Rugby Union

These are first images to be released from our photo shoot with the Welsh Rugby Union. These big multi-day team shoots are a grind, but the long hours often help get a production team into a solid groove. When this happens we move beyond the planning stages and into the sweet spot where only one thing matters. Getting the pictures. I'd like to call it magic, but really it's just plain old hard work and a maniacal attention to detail. I'll post more images as I see them appear. Here's a screen-grab from the Under Armour UK website and a behind the scenes picture from the WRU kit launch.

Jonathan Davies
Paul James,  George North,  Ryan Bevington  |  (image courtesy of Under Armour UK)

The ingredients that go into getting the photo; art director, designer, marketing managers, sports marketing manager, assistants, athlete, a photographer and a really sweet studio. This is a little video from one of our setups in the WRU Barn. The other film camera is WRU filming a making of. Said it before, I'll say it again; I wish I could turn this place into my studio! It's good to dream..

Hannover 96

Always interesting to read the reactions to pictures once they have been published. Click on the photos below to connect to the direct link on the Hannover 96 facebook fan page. Plenty of discussion going on there. These photos are part of their 2011 campaign shoot. The best pictures are still to come.

Steven Cherundolo, Sergio Pinto, Emanuel Pogatetz

Sergio Pinto, Steven Cherundolo, Didier Ya Konan
  The office for a day

Smoking out Louis Picamoles

My first serious try with a smoke machine. Everything cool until the smoke alarms went off! All it took was a couple of hours trying to get the perfect photo with Toulous forward Louis Picamoles.

Louis Picamoles

Mike Tindall

Spent a couple of hours working with Mike Tindall on our last visit the UK. Under Armour has created a campaign around Combines Training. So.. we put Mike to work and tried to get a little real world sweat happening under hyper real world studio lights and big megapixels. Good fun for me, Mike did what he needed to do to help us get our shots. We had plenty of room to set up big strobes inside a large indoor training facility. This allowed us to get Mike really well lit and have the backgrounds (ambient light) go to close to black. The artificial turf in the gym gave Mike the confidence to move with speed and power.

It was pretty much my dream setup to get some good high contrast sports photography going. I only wish I could take this gym back with me to Amsterdam and turn it into my studio. That and I'd like to have a DSLR with a flash sync above 1/200th please..

We were also in the UK for a campaign shoot with the Welsh Rugby Union. Once the  New Zealand 2011 World Cup Jerseys launch in July I will be able to post images from this shoot.

Under Armour Basketball

And now for something completely different from my life African. Flew back to France for a production with Under Armour. The focus of the shoot was Clermont Rugby but we managed to fit in a couple of 'Core' Under Armour sports as well.  The new Clermont Rugby jerseys launch in July, so those pictures will have to wait until then. I can show a little basketball action.

Under Armour brought new recruit Edwin Jackson a 6-foot 3-inch, 201-pound shooting guard from ASVEL Lyon. Under Armour creative team put together a storyboard of the moves they wanted captured. We did this shoot in the Clermont stadium ceremony room with big strobes. The place was perfect for a temporary studio as it was huge and dark. Camera set @ around f11-f16 @ 1/200th so my backgrounds went nice and dark and the athlete/apparel jumped out at me through my lens. To put pictures like this in perspective in terms of man hours. After a couple of weeks of pre-production, Under Armour brought to the shoot; a creative director, sports marketing manager, a product specialists, and I came with lighting assistants. When all is said and done, I dial in the camera and lights but there is no way to get shots like this alone. We also filmed a 'making of' which is in post production now. We'll try to get a piece of the film online in the coming month. Here are two photos from the shoot. 

This was my first time shooting basketball with a proper studio set-up. Definitely would love to go crazy lighting up a proper basketball court and doing a big shoot on location at some point in the future.

Gone fishing..

I sort of invited myself along for a fishing session with the boys from the village. Nice to finally dive into the Niger. Looking out over the River from a distance it looks deep and mysterious. Once you get out there on a boat and dive in you realize it's full of huge boulders and not very deep. The current is just strong enough to keep you working the boat to stay in place. I understand why the village fisherman are out here all day and night. This was probably the most peaceful spot I've been to in Bamako.

Once we got out on the water they told me it's better fishing at night. Indeed our catch was not great. This particular fishing technique involves throwing a casting net around a bolder and then diving into the water to drive the sheltering fish into the net with your paddle. No offense to my African peeps who can swim, but these were the first real swimmers I've met in Bamako that could stay under water without panicking. The people from these villages along the Niger are called 'Bozo'. The Bozo are known to be great swimmers and fishermen. So that explains it.

At night they play

Every night the kids come and play and play and play. Some play on beat up sandals, many barefoot. This is my first trip to the African continent. So many impressions come and go each day. My photographic roots lie somewhere in between portrait photography and shooting sports action. I come across new and amazing football pitches here all the time. When I find a good one I have the urge to pull my camera out of the bag and shoot until my trigger finger bleeds. Like anywhere there is a balance here in wanting to get the photo and peoples basic respect for privacy.

Le village de nuit

This post may be a little longwinded, but I think these photos need context to be understood. Bare with me as I try and keep to the point.

I was invited back into the village in the evening. NOTS had visited the village two days prior to train the locals on using the solar lights. My goal was to document the way the lights were being used at night. I could have done a before and after photo, but the 'before' would have been an even darker frame. Truth is some did have lighting before this introduction to solar. Kerosine lamps and battery powered lashlights work fine. The problem with kerosine is that it produces dangerous fumes inside the home plus it costs at least €1 per week to keep the light working. You can buy kerosine everywhere here. The sellers typically package the liquid in old plastic water bottles. It works, but it's obviously not very safe. The problem flashlights is the batteries. Batteries are not too expensive and are readily available. The disposal is the problem. This village currently burns their waste in trash pits behind their land. Our house is located about a ten minute walk from here and we can sometimes smell the plastic burning. I talked about this with one of my guides in the village. He's studying and spoke a little English. I mentioned that battery waste was a real problem. He said yes, it could be dangerous if the children or sheep ate them.

Amazing to see first hand how technology can change the ways of a very old and traditional world. Yesterday this village did not have a decent choice for lighting their houses at night. Tonight it seemed to me as if they had never lived without it.

Very challenging to shoot these scenes. Modern lens stabilization technology today lets me shoot in situations I would not have been able get a stable hand held photo just a few years ago. My invitation into this village is fragile at best. I can't show up here with a big tripod and tell everything to sit still for 20 seconds. 

It's good to be the chief.

Son of Chief

First village visit

I was invited to document a solar power initiative in Mali headed by NOTS Foundation. Plenty to read about Mali on wikipedia if you are interested. It must be said that I do not speak for NOTS. These are my observations. In a nutshell the project is focused on setting up a business selling and servicing small scale solar power systems for villages living off the grid. NOTS has been active in Mali for some time. Plenty of NOTS activity in Mali that I have not seen. I can talk about what I have seen in my short time.

It started with a group meeting on invitation from the village chiefs. I came along to document the meeting. This particular fisher village is located inside of Bamako yet off the power grid. Can't speak to how this village lives compared to those in the rest of the country but this village very well organized and traditional. I live in Badalabougou and see these fishermen casting their nets in the morning and evening along the Niger River.

Long story short the meeting was interesting to be the fly on the proverbial hut. As part of the agreement I was allowed to take my camera out of the bag and document the proceedings.

This solar panel is part of the solution. It is capable of charging two rechargeable LED light systems and a couple of mobile phones per day. Perfect family unit size and not too expensive for the villagers.

It was fascinating to watch the mobile phones come out of the pockets at the end of the meeting. Nokia still rules in these parts. I've gone back to Nokia in Africa as well. I get 5-8 day standby on one charge. My smart phone gets 5-8 hours..

Everyone has a phone. I've seen farmers pull dusty phones out of their pockets to take pictures of their crops. These same farmers also work the land with pick axes and watering cans. I will try to document this once figure out a way to gain access and trust.

It boggles my mind to think about what will happen once these isolated pockets of the world have access to wireless internet. They are jumping over running water, the electricity grid, computers, and straight onto the mobile internet speedway. When the locals stand around my computer as I work we talk about how complicated a computer is. I have explained a few times now that my computer is no more complicated than their phone and that within the next few years their phone will be more powerful than my crappy computer. Always fun to watch the reaction at this point. Then also I tell them my smart phone battery lasts about 8 hours if I'm lucky and then they say 'pas bon'!


We have arrived in Bamako. First time on the continent for me. So much to see. Everything is new. More details to come but here's the view from my bathroom window. This is a migrant worker watering his crops by hand. That means filling his water-can from a deep well at least 200 times a day. He's just finished pulling the water-can up from the well here. They come to Bamako during the dry season. 

Liking the Facebook 'Like'

I finally put together an AG Photography Facebook page. Why a fan page? Good question; I don't use an agent for business acquisition. Social media helps me put my portfolio out there and get work. The formula is pretty simple. The more I work the more chance I have to make great pictures and keep my business growing. The more my business grows the better I can support my photographic addiction and feed my family.  Hopefully, I'll strike the right balance between shameless self promotion and sharing a few good picture stories happening in my photographic life. Either way, thanks for the dropping by and feel free to 'like'

Jamie Cudmore protecting my house

This AD campaign is live in France. I posted a few more raw pictures from this shoot below this post. Always interesting to see what the picutres look like once they've been branded. 

Jamie Cudmore

The Facebook feedback loop

The web is an amazing direct feedback loop for photography. Some might say too direct. Always great to read what people have to say about my work though. Here's a photo composite Under Armour put together for ASM Clermont Auvergne Rugby. This one is currently being used for their facebook fan page profile. All good!

Julien Bonnaire, Brock James, Aurelian Rougerie, Jamie Cudmore, Julien Pierre

Clermont Auvergne Rugby

Shooting Clermont Auvergne Rugby was in one word; Fun and a challenge. Okay, two words. The plan for this shoot was to spend two days on the beautiful pitch shooting action portraits of the Clermont Rugby athletes and a few Under Armour contract athletes. The weather had been amazing for weeks leading up to the shoot. Give this fact, we did not worry about the weather when planning our production.. After all, we only needed to have 5 or so 1600-2400 watt strobes connected to 200 meters of extension cables in the middle of the stadium pitch. This kind of strobe power is needed to knock out the (normally) harsh Southern France sun and get the look we were going for. 
It started raining from the moment we got our setup right and kept on raining until the moment we wrapped the production, at which point the sun came out. Shooting in the rain with big strobes is next to impossible. Needless to say we improvised like mad. We took the whole shoot under the stadium bleachers. Client and I made the decision to go for the 'industrial look' as opposed to the planned magic on the field. I would have loved to have two days on that stadium pitch, but I'm happy with the photos we ended up getting under the stadium. Here's a couple from day one. Many thanks to my band of lighting assistants (Victor, Levi and Joost) who helped get us through two hectic days. I shot a timelapse of the incoming storm as we were setting up. Should make for a good laugh (now). I'll post it when I have a chance.

Jamie Cudmore - Clermont

Jamie Cudmore - Clermont

Farid Sid - Perpignan

Jamie Cudmore - Clermont

Farid Sid - Perpignan

Clermont Rugby - Brock James, Aurelian Rougerie, Napolioni Nalaga

Making Of: Lying around under the bleachers.

A little piece of Lance

Worked the 2010 Tour de France start in Rotterdam this weekend. Amazing to have a shot at getting Tour pictures so close to home. Here's one of Lance Armstrong. Unlike the lucky official Tour photographers, I did not have a motorcycle at my disposal to whisk me around the course. Or more importantly to give me more than one shot at a rider. I went early and scouted a few spots from which I thought I'd get the best chance at making the shot. I wanted to shoot all the big riders in this years tour but mostly I wanted a good shot of Lance. I practiced on the first riders that came through to make sure I had everything set-up right. Then I took a little break and started to get nervous as I waited. I had about 5 seconds per rider to get my shot. The rain came early in the prologue making for some beautiful reflective lighting. It also slowed down the speeds of the riders a bit which made it a little easier to get my shot. Most of my favorite shots of the day came during the rain. Rain adds drama. I was selfishly hoping it would keep raining during Lance's ride. Lance got lucky. It stopped raining and the streets dried up a bit. I ended up having enough time to squeeze off 10 frames of Lance as he blasted past. I think I got him pretty good. Here's one. Click on the link below to see more shots of other riders.

Tour de France 2010 Rotterdam

Equipment check.. Got my sunscreen. Should be a fun day. Edit: No need for sunscreen. It freaking rained all day!

Bicycle Race Shoot

Here's a picture from a shoot with Flavio Pasquino this past week. A sweet Spring day with a little speed and suffering mixed in. Click on the image to view this picture at the proper resolution. This one kind of needs to be viewed big.

2010 Giro d'Italia Amsterdam

Nothing quite like rolling out of my own bed and shooting world class super heros racing down my hometown streets. The 2010 Giro d'Italia prologue took off from Museumplein Amsterdam yesterday. I got out early and found a great spot on the Ceintuurbaanbrug over the Amstel river. The athlete in the first two photos is prologue winner Bradly Wiggins. Click through pictures to see more on my Flickr.

Rabo Bank

Under Armour Football/Soccer

This viral teaser was a Storeage creation for the kick off of the European Under Armour football boot launch. I shot the stills on location and we shot the player and referee on green screen @ DESMET studio's in Amsterdam.

We used the Panasonic P2 cam for the green screen (wish I had my 5D MK2 at the time). Dealing with the Panasonic MTS file format within your workflow can be a struggle if you do not work with it day in day out. It cost us some time to come to grips with it but in the end it worked out fine.

The beautiful high bit rate H.264 codec on the Canon DSLRs are perfect for these kind of effects shots (make sure you dial down sharpening). The 5DMK2 and the 7D are now in my bag at all times. Next time!

Credits: Agency - Storeage, Art Direction - Moritz von Graevenitz, Motion Graphics - Jay Goodman, Visual Effects - Joe Pavlo, Producer/DP - Arnout Groen