Another year comes and goes marked by doing portraits of very tall basketball players just before the NBA Finals series begins! Along with my associates at Birdman Inc, Garrett, Matt and Jason, I have once again had the pleasure of collaborating with Val at ESPN and Henry working with Vidiots in NYC to create “bumps” aired during the NBA Finals games. These little specialty vignettes have been interesting and fun to produce on multiple levels, and my part in making the actual still portraits is only one part in what ends up being an exhilarating team effort every year.
There is always the exciting last minute rush to fly off to one of the Finals team’s cities…..in years past, Boston, LA, Oklahoma City, Miami etc….and this year it was San Antonio. And then after doing lots of testing and prep work, we wait for the go ahead from the team to make portraits of them with the trophy, often at their team practice facility. These photo shoots are fast and furious as the players often don’t have more than 7-10 minutes each to offer us. The blur of meeting, talking to, directing and shooting the players is always a bit crazy and by the end, when I’m done, I feel spent and satisfied. It is by far the most rushed and hurried portraiture I have ever done. And without Garrett, Matt and Jason to bounce ideas off of and refer to for split second good advise, support and further direction, I think I could easily get bumped off track in the process. Once we pack up the gear after the shoot, we go have some lunch or dinner and a few beers and breathe a breath of calm. And then the post production efforts begin, starting with selecting the best images, creating a “look” for the toned black and white images (Garrett is the master of this!) and then passing them on to Henry to start the long process of assembling the images, adding digital movement, layering in new backgrounds and feathering in voice and video imagery. Val’s final vision of how it all looks and feels, assembled as a final product, is the treat I always look forward to… Most of the time, the first chance I get to see the final results of our collective work is during the first game of the NBA Finals. And it always makes me smile seeing the portraits aired on the television. THANK YOU Garrett, Matt, Jason, Val, Henry and Mike for many years of successfully collaborating and continuing this body of work!!!
Here are a few of the bumps that have aired this year in case you haven’t been following the NBA Finals series this year….