A Master Class in Messi Lighting

(Photo ©Gary Land)

At only 24 years old, Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world, period. Anyone who tells you different (save it for the comments, folks) is probably biased toward some Messi-less team.

Photographer Gary Land photographed him for an Adidas shoe campaign, using seemingly every light mod in the Profoto catalog. And as you can see in the BTS video below, pretty much every square inch of Mssr. Messi gets its own light -- with the shoes being just a little bit brighter than everything else, of course...

The lighting is so specific that the diagram shown below is almost useless. You kinda have to picture it in 3-d to get it.

Fortunately Gary gives a great walk-thru, with special attention to how he married the composited Messi to the existing stadium lighting. Then he finishes it off with a gridded light for every muscle, article of clothing, shoe, badge, bead of sweat, etc.

For right now, I think I'll just stick to shooting soccer from the sidelines with a Nikon D3 and a 200-400. Just thinking about these 57-light setups makes my head numb.

More videos from Gary Land, including how to get yourself fired from your day job so you can go freelance without securing your wife's blessing, here.


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OpenID md1337 said...

A little too much tonal contrast to my taste, but otherwise pretty cool.

I'm not sure ProPhoto can be considered a small and affordable light but you may have expanded your target population to those fancy few who can afford it since last time I came.

Other than that I'm sure my Brazilian friends will have an objection or two about Argentina's Messi being best player in the world.

September 01, 2011 9:57 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Heh. We did "small and affordable" lights on Monday.

This is an international ad campaign with Leo Messi. You don't show up with two YN-460s and a duct-tape snoot...

September 01, 2011 10:03 AM  
Blogger meckimac said...

I don't know... I personally think it's an overkill. The end-result looks much more like a CGI than a real photograph. Why not create a CGI in the first place instead of flying in Messi and use a gazillion lights?

Let me say that I'm a big proponent of post-processing and do it myself but that was IMO over-the-top.

I obviously don't know the details about that ad deal and Adidas might have their own rules about not using CGI's for the ad-campaigns.

I'm wondering if others think similarly....

Love your blog, David.

September 01, 2011 10:21 AM  
Blogger David Young said...

Nice stuff - I shot Messi training a couple of years ago - I'd love to get the chance to shoot him in a studio too - http://davidyoungphoto.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/lionel-messi-a-pleasure/

September 01, 2011 10:39 AM  
Blogger Joe Williams Photography said...

David thanks for sharing this with us. STUPID will never be fixed in the world, but you sure do a great job of not attacking those folks who continue to promote it! You need to take a mini-vacation and come down to Key West, FL and shoot for fun down here with me!

September 01, 2011 10:40 AM  
Blogger Southern Skies Coffee Roasters said...

What blew me away was that he had dedicated strobes for the shoes - one for each shoe!

September 01, 2011 10:42 AM  
Blogger Debbi_in_California said...

Wow! Love it when pros share their setup! Thx

September 01, 2011 11:06 AM  
Blogger Juan Pablo Villaverde said...

I agree with other people thinking that it's a little overkill and looks CGI, but it's also a global mkt trend, sadly (IMHO, of course). I'm writting from Rosario, Lionel's hometown, in fact I live 6 blocks away from Newells Old Boys, the Footbal Club who trained Messi before he moved to Spain. Well, it's a great post, thanks David.

September 01, 2011 12:36 PM  
Blogger JLGuzman said...

We must not forget that Mr. Messi has a spoke person contract with Adidas worth quite a few zeros at the end. Why do him CGI when you have already paid for his image. Second, Mr Messi is just a prop on this shoot. The real star are the shoes (for Adidas), of course the will be wel lighted. It's just a matter of Mr. Messi selling shoes for Adidas and not Adidas selling Mr. Messi. Thanks sharing for a great post.

September 01, 2011 12:41 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Not so much overkill as Pure Awesome. Thanks for sharing David.

September 01, 2011 1:00 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

It is not so much overkill, as it is more of a Pure Awesome setup. Thanks for sharing David.

September 01, 2011 1:02 PM  
Blogger Franklin Fitzgerald said...

That was a very informative BTS look at how to get it done. It serves more as an inspiration to me to look beyond the ordinary and to try the extraordinary with my photography. This kind of shoot is better suited for me because i am most comfortable in my home studio. Maybe I can stat working with composite images and one day post em to the strobist flikr site. I love it.

September 01, 2011 1:28 PM  
Blogger Chad Redling said...

JLGuzman hit the nail on the head. Adidas is not going for ordinary. To garner attention they need to do something that pops. Though this type of PP may be a fade, you have to admit it stands out.
As for the look and feel of the image. I personally like it. I think this style has a place in photography, after all photography is a form of Art.

September 01, 2011 1:53 PM  
Blogger Alan Lapp said...

David - thanks for sharing this BTS. Very educational -- both about lighting, and my shortcomings as a studio photographer (and I don't say that in a petty way, it's nice to realize the bar is higher than one thought).

The photo is a remarkable technical achievement, but it looks more like a fantasy-genre illustration (Molly Hatchet cover anyone?) than a photograph. This, also, is not said as a disparagement: it could be exactly what the art director requested. What is a professional photographer but a craftsman that can realize verbal and visual instructions from the creative team?

September 01, 2011 2:14 PM  
Blogger Maciek Lesniak said...

For me it's a totall overkill, looks completly fake. It's a shame that's that represents today's trend in commercial photography :(

September 01, 2011 2:21 PM  
Blogger Roy Inman said...

But isn't everything today "ovekill" and hyperbole? From Lady Gaga to politics, and of course to sports. An image has to be larger than life and over the top to gain attention in this media morass which we are all swimming in. Regarding cost of equipment: If one has the IDEA for a particular setup and, AND, the budget, equipment can all be rented for a day or two. In the case of an international ad campaign such as this one, I suspect that money was available. Probably lots and lots of money.

September 01, 2011 2:53 PM  
Blogger Bob Gundu said...

For all the comments about "Overkill" or "CGI".... This was the look the client wanted. This is not much different than Dave Hills work. A lot can be learned from the video. Take what you can, and apply to your own work. I appreciate the BTS techniques offered here. No need for negative comments.

September 01, 2011 3:22 PM  
Blogger chase said...

I really think this was shot for a larger scale than we are seeing it here.

And personally reserve my opinion on the style used till i do see it in a larger scale. At least at full screen at any rate.

However - even on this small scale one can see that though the soccer player is prominate - the main focus is drawn to the three pairs of soccer shoes or sneakers or what ever they call them these days.

and if nothing else - it got you talking about it - which in marketing - that is the whole point of the ad. If you're talking about it - you're more than likely going to remember it.

Scoring game point for the marketing team and photographer.

September 01, 2011 3:52 PM  
Blogger gvetters said...

I think this is a fantastic post and love the sharing of how it was done. Sure, it is on the one end of the spectrum using HDR and having a CGI effect, as opposed to a more "naturalistic" style such as Annie Leibowitz.

But if we all employed the same style the photographic world would be rather dull, no?

Gary Land's style is certainly utilizes the most contemporary techniques in our digital era that I don't think existed 5, or even 3 years ago, but I love it, and it is always personal choice as to what one likes.

Great job on the site, David!

September 01, 2011 4:19 PM  
Blogger aFeinPhoto said...

Looks almost hdr...which is fine for the effect but at this level isnt it just easier to CGI everything? What it ends up looking like anyway...

However using a gazillion dollars of lights is fun too


September 01, 2011 6:41 PM  
Blogger Andrew Keane said...

Hi contrast, CGI look is what's poplular with the consumer, so I see why they go with it. I dont mid this look myself, thoguh I agree this one is rather overt.

It does not look real at all, more like a like poster, which in turn implies action and excitement. I assume the company doing the advertising wanted a look that is 'cool' and thus sell more shoes I suppose.

I do like the lighting setup.

September 01, 2011 7:06 PM  
Blogger McClanahan said...

Overkill? Perhaps. Bad ass? Definitely. Sure it's idealized to the point of fantasy, but he lit every component of that photo with more precision that most ever achieve.

September 01, 2011 8:58 PM  
Blogger J said...

To be fair, this ad campaign from what i remember seemed to be based on the concept of comic books or graphic novels so i think his methodology and post production matched quiet perfectly. I initially would be put off by the processing as well but in context i find it most appropriate

September 01, 2011 9:08 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

How much prep time (probably days) did you invest before actually shooting Messi, and how long was Messi in your studio?

September 01, 2011 9:11 PM  
Blogger Madika said...

Big strobe or not, I thinks it's a great post. It really show how professional do their work. When I see an ad that I admire, I wonder how they light it and process it. This post show me the glimpse of how they do it. I really appreciate it.
Thank you Gary Land dan David Hobby.

September 01, 2011 11:56 PM  
Blogger nicola said...

Normally if I don't like the pics on here I don't comment, but this really seems like a case of emperor's new clothes.

If that is what the client wanted, then maybe we've got to admire the technique, but it looks completely crass to me. Not a good result for Adidas.

September 02, 2011 3:14 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Shots like this and seeing the BTS always remind me of that saying "get it right in camera". Even though the final image is heavily post processed and doesn't look like the images from the back of the camera. You can tell how much thought had gone in to collecting and shooting the elements that would need to go into the final image, lighting ratios, position, where the final scene's lights would be. The post processing wasn't "fixing" problems but combining them and bringing the elements together to create the image they had envisioned.

I think it works really well. OK I wouldn't choose to shoot a portrait of grandma like this but then again my gran isn't a world class footballer with bright blue shows.

September 02, 2011 4:39 AM  
Blogger Ben Phillips Photography said...

I have to agree with a lot of posts that there's too much tonal contrast which gives it an artificial look - too much for me.

Watch the vid, at 3:50 the shot looks awesome - at 3:52 they've done too much. Shame.

September 02, 2011 5:07 AM  
Blogger Sakki said...

What is so bad about it looking a bit adventurous? Does it really need to look a snapshot from the game? I quite like it, and the video is great.

On another note, Diego Maradona is still alive! He is the king! (and he even has his own little sect) Period. :-)

September 02, 2011 6:05 AM  
Blogger Heipel said...

I don't come to this great blog to critique photographs I come for excellent tutorials, lessons and advice (and spot on sarcastic sarcastic humour lots of times) on lighting. And this particular post does that in spades. What do I think of the final image? Who cares, it's lit with unbelievable expertise and precision.

September 02, 2011 9:30 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Indeed. And FWIW, I give a lot more credibility to the negative "critiquers" when they do not forget to include a link to their superior work.


September 02, 2011 10:30 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

The average person (Joe Consumer) who sees this advertisement is not going to be appalled by the heavy post-processing, nor will they be concerned with the ridiculous number of beauty dishes involved in the shot.

They will simply think, "Hm... cool shoes. I need those..."

The photography is not the point. The point is the intended purpose of the photography. In this case, selling a product. Lighting, no matter how involved, is secondary to this purpose.

There's still valuable information to be distilled from this post.

September 02, 2011 11:48 AM  
Blogger Bryan Leighty said...

Has a single one of the people above that do not prefer the final image taken even the slightest peek of a recent sports magazine in the last few years?? I would assume not. For those that complain that it's a "shame that's this represents today's trend in commercial photography" I would simply ask you to use your camera and your own creative skills, understanding of appealing to the masses and undying focus on altering an industry standard to change that trend. I truly look forward to your BTS videos in the future. Thanks, as always, Dave for posting another amazing video!

September 02, 2011 12:04 PM  
Blogger Yugo said...

Yes, Messi does "pop" off the page, but not in a very good way.

Dave Hill's adventure series has much more consistent lighting for a composited image. I agree with Ben Phillips Photography's comment that 3:50 has better, more realistic color - 3:52 masks some (but not all) of the compositing weirdness with the sepia tone. But the blue shoe nearest the viewer remains the same blue, making it feel removed from the scene. (To be fair, Adidas probably insisted on that color remaining accurate.)

More importantly, the heavy use of highly directed light (e.g., narrow beams on shoes) makes the 3D compositing appear false. The slide tackling player looks disconnected from Messi (note direction of hard light on his green jersey), and the (dark) frontmost player casts no shadow on Messi's (bright) right leg.

I accept all the above comments about taking positive lessons from an experienced, well-funded pro and not making judgments about the style/genre, but I do think it could have been executed better. (I also posted a link to an example I liked better.) Reversing some of the earlier comments - your typical layperson won't know anything about how Messi's contract only gives the photographer 10 minutes to shoot him, but they WILL instinctively know inconsistent lighting / compositing when they see it.

September 02, 2011 2:20 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Still waiting for some of the poo-poo'ers to post links to their better work. That feature must be broken.


September 02, 2011 2:42 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

Documentary photography: Show as much authenticity as possible.

Advertising photography: Sell a surrealistic/heroic/exaggerated scenario.

All photography: learn the lighting that best accomplishes your goal in telling the right story.

September 02, 2011 2:45 PM  
Blogger nicola said...

Well, as you asked...


Critique away.

Although as you might note, I'm not Nicola, but Jon - this is my wife's Google account.

September 02, 2011 6:39 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Uhm, this is a lighting blog, no? So the BTS vid is fantastic. Big lights, small lights, whatever. That's why we read it.

So why all the comments about the shot itself? Go find a composition blog / forum somewhere. And a business blog / forum, too, while you are at it. I'm sure there are lots of photographers out there who love to argue with the creative director of a campaign about what will sell the customer's goods and what won't.

Or maybe not. I suspect those folks don't work that much.

As for me, I'm going to file this one away, just in case some day I need to reach deep down into the skills bag to produce a shot like this that someone wants me to shoot.

September 03, 2011 8:10 AM  
Blogger leex said...

Ok, so lots of technical know how, but for me way too overworked, it might as well have been painted by a graphic artist, or done totally as CGI, there seems to be a lot of these 'macho in your face' images turning up here of late, what happened to the less is more strobist ideal? Might be a good idea every once in a while to touch base with Dean Collin's work.

September 03, 2011 8:17 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

"Still waiting for some of the poo-poo'ers to post links to their better work. That feature must be broken."

I have to say this is, I think, a rather silly point of view. I am not a professional sports photographer, I do not shoot footballers with 368 different lights, how does that invalidate my opinion of the overall look of the photograph?

I don't like Yngwie Malmsteen's music. I can't play guitar as well as he can. Does that invalidate my dislike of his music? No it does not.

September 03, 2011 9:37 AM  
Blogger nothing said...

Love the shot, I have assisted Gary a few times. He has a great attitude and his lighting set ups are over the top. This over the top style is what got him the job, the ad agency did not want Walter Iooss or someone like him. Trends come and go and at some point the bubble will pop and over processed images will be out. At that point, you better believe Gary will have new look that he can market himself with.

September 03, 2011 10:00 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


It has generally been my experience that people who sit around on the internet hurling feces at the work of others are usually better at talking the talk than they are at walking the walk.

September 03, 2011 1:56 PM  
Blogger karl said...

The photo/image/creation was not produced for photographers, it was produced to leap off the page or stand out against lots of other billboards. It has a exciting fast moving feel to it and is aimed at a generation that plays video games and are much more likely to identify with this type of image more than any other. The image works so well for what it is trying to do ... which is to sell football (soccer ) boots.

September 03, 2011 3:35 PM  
Blogger Gus Samarco said...

David, I expected more from you than saying Messi is the best player in the world. You should change it to “One of the best players…” after all, he’s from Argentina.

September 03, 2011 6:51 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I love this, BTS vids are the best and kudos to profoto for doing them.

I don't know how people can moan and complain about free education and getting to see the "secret sauce" in photos that are quite big in the industry just now, composites seem to have made a huge leap in popularity just now.

I tend to disagree with the ethos that "everyone is entitled to give their opinion".
I hate people judging, griping, moaning about other people in any industry (my friend does it to football players) saying a player is rubbish & should be sacked when you can't play anywhere near the same as him means you don't have the right to make the judgement he is bad.

Same goes for photographers saying you could have done better warrants a show of evidence, if you indeed can and have shot bigger , better campaigns, well done you've won a watch.

But you are another keyboard warrior, talking crap with no substance behind it....sit down, nobody wants your invalid opinion.

if you can't do the same or better, you can't have an opinion on wither somebody is bad or good, you can totally say if you like it or not, there is nothing wrong with that at all, that's just personal preference but you can't say anything bad about them.

@Rob you can say wither you like something or not, but not slag them off for doing what they did.

ie. yngwie malmsteen, you can say i don't like his music its just not to my taste but he's obviously good at what he does (what i would say, even thought i like him)

But saying "i don't link malmsteen, he is a terrible guitarist, can't hold a melody and just plays crap with no structure to his notes" when you can't play as well as him or are not at the same level professionally then, in my eyes, you should keep that to yourself.

(obviously i'm not saying that you said any of this personally, just using you as my person to have back and forth to for examples)

September 04, 2011 1:24 AM  
Blogger irvin00 said...

This is proof that even top professionals are not above the occasional sub-par photograph. The client would have been best served with an illustration, if that was the desired look.

September 04, 2011 8:43 AM  
Blogger nicola said...

" The image works so well for what it is trying to do ... which is to sell football (soccer ) boots."

The reason that those who are critiquing the picture (NB I didn't see anyone ctiticising the photographer) have just as valid opinions about it is right here in this statement from karl.

Unless he happens to have the Adidas sales figures from before and after the campaign he has no idea whether it "works so well". In fact, even if he does have the figures, he still wouldn't know, unless Adidas have run some control group by running the ads in some areas of the country and not others to see how it affected sales.

A quote from John Wanamaker puts it most succinctly "I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted … I just don’t know which half."

Going by the range of comments here I'd say there was about a 50/50 split amongst those who like or dislike the aesthetics of the pic, which may or may not carry through into the target market for Adidas boots, but if I were an Adidas marketing guy I might well feel that that was a bit on the low side.

Interested as I am in all things strobist, my personal view is that the whole over-processed look is starting to get a bit boring and safe.

Why shouldn't this pic be the catalyst for that sort of discussion without a bunch of people taking offence at it? (Will et al.)

September 04, 2011 9:22 AM  
Blogger RexGRP said...

The image is very dynamic with dramatic lighting and composition, but is it a photograph ?
I can imagine it appearing in a blog called the Photoshopist.

September 04, 2011 1:18 PM  
Blogger Sir Psycho Sexy said...

this is a way too heavy post processed image, with excessive lighting bluffing....

September 04, 2011 4:30 PM  
Blogger David said...

The "If you don't like the image, post your own superior work" comments seem a little out of place on a teaching blog. The inference being that the only people who can post critical comments are the ones who don't really need to be here. I could understand if the comments were "Crap. Wateva. My grandma could do better." but on the whole they seem like reasonable critical responses to the image. Shouldn't that be encouraged rather than discouraged? The alternative is an audience of yes-men.

September 04, 2011 6:09 PM  
OpenID Randy said...

This is a great image...I don't understand the nay-sayers. Do I have the studio, the equipment, the know-how to pull this off? Not likely...(well, I would give it my best.) I have never been able to negatively critique anyone's work though. I always feel that it is the way the creator envisioned it. If I am asked specifically, "What could I do here?" then I will try to help.
Johnny Cash once told Roy Orbison that if he were going to 'make it' he would need to lower the register of his voice....NOT!..even though Cash made a career out of a lower voice. Give it a rest...
I am including a link to an image on my blog that has a similar 'un-real crunch' to it. I am not in ANY way suggesting that it is superior to anything, just an example of a client asking for a look, me doing research, and pulling it off sufficiently. You don't like it? Sucks for you, don't look again...! Sorry, that reads more harshly than need be...see...tongue in cheek....
The blog briefly explains the 'why' and all I can say is, "Flashbus made me do it!!"


September 04, 2011 7:02 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@ Other David-

Actually, several comments were worse than "crap, whatev, my grandma could do better".

Most went unmoderrated, as they ranged from amazingly petty to actually personal insults at the photographer.

Yes, this is a site for learning. And yes, critical comments are valid. But before people start teeing off all condescendingly at someone working at this level, they should take a *good long look* at their own work and see if they are in a position to be condescending.

How many of the naysayers could have pulled off a shoot like that -- beginning to end, with preplanning, shooting, not crapping their pants when they had 10 mins to shoot Messi, and the post production.

I am guessing not a single one.

The internet (and in particular, blog comments on the internet) makes people say stuff in public that they would never say in a room full of people -- much less to their target's face. It's an ugly thing and I absolutely reserve the right to occasionally tamp it down in the comments of this blog.

You should see the absolute crap that does not get moderated into print in the comments section. And sometimes my reaction is to all of the comments on a post, not just the moderated ones.


September 04, 2011 7:12 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Very impressive digital art.

September 05, 2011 2:15 AM  
Blogger nicola said...


Maybe you could have mentioned that you had filtered many comments when you put up your comment about the "lets see your better stuff" post.

The impression given was that it was the critical commentators that you let through that you were having a go at.

September 05, 2011 3:35 AM  
Blogger Domi said...

(I haven't read all the comments - toooo many! - so somebody may have mentioned it, but...) I think it says a lot about how much Gary must fly around the world when he says he flew to Marseille to shoot the stadium, when it's pretty clear if you know it that it's actually the Camp Nou in Barcelona. (Probably the Voll Damm ad is the biggest giveaway ;)

September 05, 2011 10:06 AM  
Blogger rpccube said...

It's a 'poster melange' and as such is perfectly legitimate. This type of thing can be seen on the walls of sport shops every day and is what the advertiser wants because it works!
That said, the "STUPID" comment also exceeded the rules of polite discourse that are supposed to govern this forum. It should also have been called David.

September 05, 2011 11:36 AM  
Blogger Max said...

in case you haven't caught this:


September 05, 2011 2:45 PM  
Blogger . said...

Nice post David, and what a response!

I guess Joe McNally has got a serious competitor as far as number of flash units used ;-)

Thanks for sharing


September 05, 2011 4:09 PM  
Blogger Buffalo bob said...

You can hate this image and still learn from it. Folks need to cheer up a bit.

September 05, 2011 6:08 PM  
Blogger BC said...

I don't agree with all the 'overprocessed' comments. It's a print ad that is supposed to look hyper-real. For me, it works on every level.

September 05, 2011 10:37 PM  
Blogger bedwards said...

99.9% sure that this was not shot using profoto lights or mods. according to his blog bron was used. needed the short flash duration. pretty sad if true


September 06, 2011 12:21 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Given the detail he went into in the video, I am guessing this was a different shoot?

September 06, 2011 12:36 AM  
Blogger Mazza said...

Great insight into the techniques employed on high budget ad shoots.
Regardless of the amount and expense of lighting used, the end result just needs to get kids to pester their parents for a pair of those shoes......job done.
And as none of us know for sure what the brief was for this campaign, the photographer obviously used the right tools to get the job done.
Personally, I was in awe of the attention to detail.
Thanks for sharing this story, David.
(And no, I am not a yes man)

September 06, 2011 7:59 AM  
Blogger Eduardo said...

I like to know which software, photoshop process or plugin was used on this photo to create that look...thanks

September 06, 2011 6:41 PM  
Blogger leex said...

This is an image meant to sell something therefore it is in the public domain and anyone, be they a photographer or not, is a potential client and can give their opinion on whether they like it or not. Many years ago (pre Photoshop etc) I remember how many wedding photographers and 'art photographers' did all sorts of amazing technical stuff in the dark room to their images and was always amazed at the technical skill but how the end results was often tacky and awful. Remember the painting 'Wings of Love'? How many of you would hang that on your wall in a non ironic way but you still have to admit it had some technical merit. In short technical brilliance does not mean its actually any good. When people say 'oh he's a musicians musician' it usually means he is a virtuoso player but your average 'Joe Blogs' just thinks its self indulgent crap!

September 07, 2011 10:35 AM  
Blogger BBK said...

a bit too much i think. almost very flat, very busy. maybe it looks better on a giant billboard, who knows...:?

September 08, 2011 1:35 PM  
Blogger Mohamed Ghuloom said...

A very accurate shot in the sense of lighting settings and post-production.

September 10, 2011 4:45 PM  
Blogger nicola said...

I was still thinking about this image and thought I'd do a quick Google to see how it was actually used in the poster campaign.

Interestingly, in the end, the usage(in the UK at least) is nothing like the way it has been presented here on Strobist.

Here it is at a site called CreativeReview.co.uk along with some comment.

September 11, 2011 7:25 PM  
Blogger stress1971 said...

I like it a lot! A bit over the top? Maybe, but if you dig deep into stuff like that you'd probably find that even Rembrandt was a bit over the top. No doubt in my mind that if I'd ever get the chance to shoot Messi (Oh yes, that is short for Messiah!!) I'd rather go "overkill" than "underkill"..

September 12, 2011 2:20 PM  
Blogger aK said...

you have to understand (not football/soccer fans) that people and sports experts talk about Messi as a "cartoon/fantasy player" and this is exactly what the AD want to show. it tries to show messi and he is not from this planet, he is a fantasy player far beyond us and the other players, and when he is on his adidas shoes, even more

its not about a real picture, its about the fantasy player he is


September 13, 2011 11:40 AM  
Blogger Abe said...

I was a bit confused at first since to me it looked more like a painting than a photograph. It's a very interesting look. I really appreciated the video since it gave a better understanding of how the figure was lit.

Even if I personally did/didn't like the look of the photograph (and everyone is entitled to an opinion -- informed or not), by understanding how the photograph was constructed I can better improve my photography.

The post was very good in what it was trying to accomplish.

September 14, 2011 4:51 PM  
Blogger Treehouse HD said...

My goodness! There is no shortage of haters out there in the world. This photo is at once beautiful, and hyper dynamic. Bravo to the photog, and the ad agency creatives.

September 16, 2011 4:15 AM  
Blogger Martijn said...

Thanks for sharing David. Very impressive. The football theme kinda reminded me of the 'new warrior' series by Erwin Olaf, 2008. A series of the dutch national team. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgIat_Lhd4A&feature=related

or here: http://designyoutrust.com/2008/06/05/dutch-national-soccer-team-new-warriors/

grtz martijn

September 16, 2011 3:28 PM  
Blogger TA08 said...

Cool Video. We photographers see images differently than the audience so kudos to the photographer for keeping an eye for the audience and the final output. I am not the biggest fan of the highly processed look but I think here it works well and more importantly it was done really well. I would love to have seen some camera flashes going off in the crowd in the background. Oh and if Im going to be harassed for expressing my opinion because I dont show my work here it is. http://picasaweb.google.com/115247072541329235917/PicasaWebAlbum?authkey=Gv1sRgCMvvtvaf8Oy5yAE#

September 16, 2011 6:00 PM  
Blogger Elf said...

The photo is good, the setup is good, too. Obviously, there´s been quite thought and techinique put into thinking of the light. If we could see the raw without the post processing, I think that everybody would agree.
Side note: believe ir or not, I see Messi every day, I live right in front of the footfield fields where FC Barcelona train :P

September 17, 2011 6:06 AM  
Blogger Chase Jarvis said...

Hmmm. Interesting that this is a Profoto vid... Not to shake the tree here, but if I'm not mistaken, I recall from this post on Gary's own blog (with photographs to illustrate it) that he used Broncolor and not Profoto...



September 19, 2011 3:14 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Actually, someone else mentioned that above. We asked Gary about it and he said that was a different shoot. Apparently, he has shot Messi four times.


September 20, 2011 10:22 AM  
Blogger anon said...

I found this a really interesting post, I'm the Studio Manager at the ad' agency that came up with the creative concept, retouched these images and artworked the mechanicals. But being in the Studio I don't get to go on set, so to see the video is great for an amateur photographer like me ;-)

Part of the brief was to make an image that could be used TTL; print, retail and digital. It was to be supplied in sections to be adjusted using InDesign and not Photoshop so it could be adapted for print easily. Messi is a separate transparent PSD from background, the foreground players are also separate PSDs, and we had a dust and dirt layer. When making outdoor posters or thin print ads, we could move 1GB PSD files in InDesign and export to colour managed PDF for printing, quicker than opening the 12GB layered master PSD.

Gary Land (IMO) understands this because every shoot we've done with him comes back with useful files we can work with easily, and always look stunning! You see a lot from a photographer from the RAW he sends back, and his files are tight.

The agency is 180 Amsterdam, the campaign was F50, the TV spots were called The Spark and Fast vs Fast. They're on YouTube.

September 21, 2011 3:09 PM  
Blogger Carla! said...

Haha, for those calling it overkill - isn't it just a "style"?? Does all photography in advertising have to be the same? I thought it was great, and pretty creative, and that light setup is crazy.
My point is that all photography is not the same, doesn't need to look the same, and we should embrace different styles and creative visions.
Viva La Pulga!

September 22, 2011 12:33 PM  
Blogger whatev said...

Why not just get a graphic artist to draw that up? Would never have known it was a photograph.

Send a normal photo to an artist, have them make a cartoon out of it. Viola!

October 03, 2011 7:10 AM  
Blogger matthewmaurice68 said...

There's great irony in this photo (as well as others by Gary for Adidas). Before he became a free-lance photographer Gary worked as a photo manager for Reebok. As he started to "moonlight" doing small-scale for-hire work, with Reebok's permission, he was hired to shoot Lance Armstrong. Between the time the photo was shot and the magazine it was for was published Adidas acquired Reebok, and the idea of a Reebok cum Adidas photo employee taking a published shot of a competitor's marquee name didn't go over well. As a result Gary was fired by Adidas, and from there he went full-time freelance. Eventually being commissioned by Adidas for several campaigns.

February 04, 2014 3:03 AM  

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