Sharman White for USA TODAY Sports
A few weeks ago, USA TODAY asked me to take some portraits of Miller Grove (Ga.) High School boys basketball head coach Sharman White. He was in the running for the 2014 ALL USA Boys Basketball Head Coach of the Year, which he was named yesterday. And it’s not hard to see why he would be candidate for this title: He has led the Miller Grove Wolverines to six straight AAAAA state titles. Six straight. White, who is also the athletics director, started at the school when it opened in 2005. He has been winning championships since the 2008-09 season.
For the portrait shoot, I only had an hour or so and I wanted to get at least three different looks done. The first was in the locker room (below), so I set up in there using three lights. It turned out there were no power outlets in the locker room itself, so I had to run extension cords into an adjacent room (glad I brought those!) for two lights and I used an external battery pack for the third. The key light was a large soft box, the fill light on the right had a 30-degree grid spot, and the background light used a 7 1/2 inch reflector. All lights were Einsteins, made by Paul C. Buff. It took a little tweaking to keep the light from bouncing all over the place, but I think it worked in the end:
For the second part of the shoot, I posed Sharman standing next to all six game balls and trophies from the championships. I just used one light with a large soft box. I knew this photo would probably not be as cool as the locker room shot, or the one I was about to photograph of him holding the trophies, but I wanted to make sure I turned in a variety of photos to my editor. This is important. You could think of it more like a safety shot, one that could be used a head shot if they wanted.
The the last shoot was of him holding all six of his state championship trophies. I used the same large soft box as before, but I also incorporated some really nice window light coming in from the side of the gym (which is what is lighting the top part of his head). I had a feeling this would be the best photograph, but it depended on a number of factors. First, Sharman had to be willing. I wanted him to show just how many he had won, and make it seem like he could barely contain his success. But some coaches might not be willing to perilously hold some of their most prized possessions. He was happy to help.
I also needed him to appear jovial — a stiff expression would not work for this photograph. Again, no problem for Sharman. Even after I had shot him holding the trophies (it was a bit difficult for him to hang on them all at once) a couple of times and said I would be done. I asked him if he would do it once more, that I just needed a few more frames to make it perfect. He obliged, and it paid off.
Below are a couple of detail shots from the shoot:
Here is a screenshot of how it ran on the USA TODAY High School Sports website: