Extreme Teams – Digital Team Composites

By Mike Luter

Hi Gang,

We started shooting high school football again today and I wanted to share with you some of our Xtreme Team (digital team composites) we created last year – I will post an update of some of the cool stuff we are doing this year in a couple weeks. If you aren’t familiar with them, it is an excellent alternative to the traditional team or group shot. We photograph everyone individually on the green screen background and assemble the group digitally. Anyone that has done any large group photography understands the challenges of this type of photography. Here are some of my thoughts after doing over 75+ digital composites during last year.

Pros
1. It’s a real WOW product and will separate you from your competition, allowing you to book a lot more teams.

2. In the past when photographing 50 or 60 football players with 20+ cheerleaders it would become quite a production and would take some time to get everyone properly posed and photographed. Look at the college team below, with players, cheerleaders and coaches well over 125 people. Trying to orchestrate that as a traditionally photograph was a real pain in the backside – this whole shoot including each players individual pose was done in about 1 hour.

Also, the coaches love it because they are usually at the front of the line and after their 30 seconds in front of the camera they are done.

3. No risers. In the past when photographing groups this large, you typically working on the football field and have to get there 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the shoot just to set up the risers, lights etc.. No risers required (my back really appreciate this).

4. We now get to shoot in the gym where – where the AC is. Did I mention we now get to shoot in the AC

5. No more bad lighting situations. Since most of the coaches typically want to do the team shot taken immediately after school gets out and before practice starts, you find yourself doing most between 2pm to 3pm in the afternoon. Not the ideal time for best lighting conditions. We even did a couple in the gym with it pouring down rain outside… no more rescheduled shoots.

6. No more missing kids or kids who ended up getting cut in the team picture. Since most of the football shots are taken in August to meet the program deadline… many of the schools have not made final cuts. Most coaches do not want kids in the team shot that end up getting cut from the team. Although everybody is photographed individually for the program, the composite isn’t assembled until the coach makes his final cuts.

7. It also makes it very easy to create the specialty groups. For example, a group shot of all seniors, or all linebackers etc.…

Cons
1. If you are doing any type of serious volume, you could potentially get backed up in production.

2. Most of these jobs are shot on green screen to make the production as easy as possible. If the green screen is not lit properly and it becomes a manual process to extract each one of the players in Photoshop you are going to see a lot of sleepless nights.
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The graphics used to create these composites came from our friends over at Photo Solutions Market.

Here’s a couple sample team composites. What are your thoughts? Leave your feedback below, I love to hear what you think of these new digital team composites.

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