Gregory Heisler Will Now BTS For You My Most Favorite Photo He Has Ever Shot
To understand the impact this photo had on me when it first came out, you kinda have to get into the head of a Baltimore Sun photographer during the run-up to the 2004 Summer Olympics.
For one thing, this is the only photo which has ever made me shout the F-word in a supermarket checkout line. So yeah, I have been waiting a long time for this BTS.
Oh, and if that weren't enough, there are two more Gregory Heisler vids inside, too...
"A Week at f/11"
Okay, so you can watch this first if you like. But it will probably help to know the context behind the supermarket expletive.
In the run-up to the Phelps Gold Medal Orgy that was the 2004 Olympics, the Baltimore Sun was sparing no coverage for the Baltimore native. This was mostly courtesy photographers John Makely and Karl Ferron, who had shot him damn-near every way they could think of.
Heck, we even ran a full-page horizontal underwater photo of Phelps. As in "you will now turn your newspaper sideways so we can run this edge-to-edge photo of Phelps even bigger."
Suffice to say we were pretty pleased with our photographic coverage. Until we saw this Time cover by Heisler.
And Greg, I know you are reading this. So I would like you to pause and picture me yelling out "F---!" in the Columbia, MD Giant Food checkout line in 2004 when I first saw this cover on the newsstand.
Thus it is with bittersweet admiration that I watched this BTS of how, exactly, Heisler kicked our collective asses in the BaltSun Photo Dept. Having since met Greg (and had my butt handed to me by him in person) at GPP, I'm gonna think out loud for a sec and catalog the things I picked up from this video and from the related conversations with him in Dubai.
How Do I Kick Thee? Let Me Count The Ways
1. Once again, there is not a pure white light in this frame. Which is what makes it look real. Because real light, unlike flash, is rarely white.
2. Prepare in advance. By the time Phelps stepped in front of Heisler's camera everything had been experimented to death and nailed down. Phelps was a solved mannequin. With square boobs.
3. Little-known fact: Heisler maintains a studio (or he did, anyway, as of our last meeting) in New York City. He almost never shoots there. But he uses it to pre-test the crap out of his location shoots before the fact. Just like you do, right?
4. He was originally planning to do this with fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights. On a related note, Chuck Norris once threw a grenade and killed 50 people. Then it exploded.
5. Tilting the lens of the 8x10 (natch) camera to create the illusion the cheesy water backdrop was in fact, a three-dimensional pool receding into the background: of course.
Win a Free Profoto D1 Kit
The good news: As a tie-in with release of the upcoming series of Heisler BTS videos, ProfotoUSA is giving away a lighting kit with 2 Profoto D1 500ws monos, stands, umbrellas, a case and a Profoto Air Remote.
The bad news: It won't instantly turn you into Greg Heisler. But it can't hurt, right?
You enter here by signing up for their newsletter, which is actually pretty good. It's US only, alas, because this is a ProfotoUSA thing. Not sure if existing newsletter subs are automatically entered, tho. So re-up if you wanna be sure.
And yeah, I said upcoming series. There are three more BTS vids to come. I have seen them; they're all good. Stay tuned.
Last but not least, in addition to the first BTS video in the series, there were two more Heisler vids released today. Both are excellent advice for photographers:
Heisler on Photographic Techniques
Heisler's Advice to Photographers
So, a kickass photo BTS and some food for thought. Happy Sunday.