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Category: Portraits

Five Dudes And A Panda: Shooting Dude Perfect!

Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert, and Tyler Toney of Dude Perfect

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to fly down to Texas and photograph Dude Perfect for their Fall 2016 product line launch. If you’re not familiar with Dude Perfect, they’re a group of guys who do sports trick shots and other entertaining things on their YouTube channel and have gained quite a large following. They also have a reality show on CMT that’s rather entertaining.

So, how does one go about getting hired for something like this, then execute it? Glad you asked…

It starts when you get a phone call from your friend who is the chief creative officer at Rivals Group, a creative brand strategy house based in Tampa, asking if you’re available and interested in doing the shoot after filling you in on what it is. You say yes, put together an estimate so they know what it’s going to cost, and then they hire you if they approve of your estimate.

After that, you get to work finding a local assistant, stylist, and place to rent gear. Thankfully the shoot was taking place just north of Dallas, and I have friends at WELD in Dallas who I could reach out to for help with these things. My buddy Hoyoung Lee pointed me in the right directions for these things and I was off. Assistant, check. Stylist, check. Rental house, check. Now what do I actually need to rent?

Being a location shoot and not knowing what the exact status of the building was going to be, I opted for battery powered lights rather than AC units, specifically Profoto B1 Air heads. This allowed me to set up anywhere and not worry about being near outlets or running extension cords. I also planned for having two setups, the white seamless and the lifestyle stuff, so I rented two sets of three lights (that’s six heads for you math nuts out there) so we could quickly move between setups if need be.

Dude Perfect Headquarters in Frisco, Texas, still under construction
An iPhone pano of the new Dude Perfect HQ, still being finished, from upstairs. That’s a soccer field in the back, the just-finished basketball court on the right, an in-progress putting green (that’s the gravel that serves as the base under the actual green), and in the left bottom corner the Dude Perfect Epic Cart (I have an idea for a shot I want to make involving this if I get to go back and shoot again in the future…)

The plan was to shoot at Dude Perfect’s new headquarters, which was still under construction and being moved into, but had plenty of space to set up for this. Our primary goal was to photograph all five Dudes and the Panda wearing their new products, as well as two kids for the youth line. These shots are for the online storefront and shot on white seamless. Our secondary goal was to do some lifestyle shots of the Dudes in action to add a little extra flavor to things.

Seamless paper background and studio lights set up for Dude Perfect photo shoot

For the seamless setup, I used two lights on the background, shot through umbrellas, for an even lighting, and one light up front with a 5’ octa boomed out for even lighting on the garments. This isn’t a situation for creative lighting and dark shadows; the point is to showcase the products, so you use whatever lighting best does that. And thankfully each light came with two batteries and a charger, which was vital since I was shooting at f/11 and the lights were all at full or nearly full power. We kept an eye on battery levels and swapped them out between subjects. To create two separate zones of light (so that the background lights don’t spill onto the subjects), I had everyone stand about 10 to 12 feet off the background.

Photographing one of the youth models while Chief Creative Officer Joel Cook and Stylist Ana Patiño make sure everything is looking good. Photo by Ashley Allen
Photographing one of the youth models while Chief Creative Officer Joel Cook and Stylist Ana Patiño make sure everything is looking good. Photo by Ashley Allen

Photographing Cory Cotton.  Photo by Ashley Allen
Photographing Cory Cotton.  Photo by Ashley Allen

This was all shot on a Canon 1DX with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (thanks Canon!) and tethered into Lightroom.

A sampling of all the photos shot for the Dude Perfect Fall 2016 product line
A sampling of all the photos shot for the Dude Perfect Fall 2016 product line

In post, all the seamless setup shots were cropped square to fit the layout of the online storefront, and I used the adjustment brush to make sure the backgrounds were all completely white (the auto masking works pretty darn well for this!). Doing this part with a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet also really helps for getting into those nooks and crannies with precision.

Studio lights set up on the Dude Perfect basketball court at their headquarters in Frisco, Texas
We put cardboard down on the court underneath the light stands to ensure they didn’t damage the court since this was literally the day after it had been finished, and thus the first day anyone was on it.

For the lifestyle setup, I used two strip banks with eggcrate grids for edge lighting, and the 5’ octa again as the front light. We wound up only having time for one setup using this, but there’s definitely possibility for some cool shots in the future. I rented all the lighting and grip gear from Bolt Productions, which is conveniently located just around the corner from WELD in Dallas. For this I used a Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70mm lens.

Brad Moore photographs Dude Perfect on the basketball court at their headquarters in Frisco, Texas
This was a group shot with the youth models without Profoto lighting, but it shows the scissor lift and my position for the lifestyle shot coming up below. Photo by Ashley Allen

Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert, and Tyler Toney of Dude Perfect
Cory Cotton, Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert, and Tyler Toney of Dude Perfect

The one setup we did was on the new DP basketball court. They had a scissor lift on hand for the painting and various other things that were going on, so I used that to get up high and shoot down on the court. I tried to set up the edge lights so they wouldn’t be in the shot, but it was such a wide shot that it wasn’t working because they were too far away from the subjects. So I got up on the lift and shot a “plate” image, a shot of the court without the lights in it, then asked my assistant to move the lights back into position. I did some test shots to make sure everything was good to go, then brought the Dudes out for the shot.

Animated GIF showing the photographic and editing process to create the final photo of Dude Perfect
The editing process in layers: plate (clean shot of court), shot with lights in frame, using a layer mask to get rid of the lights, overall toning, color adjustment, selective brightening of faces, more toning and removing light reflections on the floor, brightening Cory’s arm and shadows on the floor, and a little more overall toning.

To create the final image, I took the plate shot and the shot with the Dudes into Photoshop and merged them together to end up with a final shot of the Dudes but no lights.

Screen shot of the Dude Perfect storefront using Brad Moore's photos

If you want to see how the shots were used, head over to the Dude Perfect Store, browse around, and place an order!

A HUGE THANKS to all of these fantastic people:

Chief Creative Officer R I V A L S / / G R P: Joel Cook
Director of Creative Brand Strategy R I V A L S / / G R P: Trevor Erickson
Stylist: Ana Patiño
Assistant: Ashley Allen

And to Dude Perfect and our youth models for being so gracious and easy to work with!

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Preson Phillips Band Ring Light Portraits

My buds in Preson Phillips recently released a new album and needed some shots to help promote it. They wanted a close up, kinda harsh and gritty look, so here’s what I wound up doing for them:

Preson Phillips
Preson Phillips, lead vocals and acoustic guitar. Canon 1DX with 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 168mm + f/2.8, 1/200 shutter at ISO 100
Nate Murray
Nate Murray, bass. Canon 1DX with 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm + f/2.8, 1/200 shutter at ISO 100
Mickey Holm
Mickey Holm, drums. Canon 1DX with 70-200m f/2.8 @ 155mm + f/2.8, 1/200 shutter at ISO 100
Tim McTague
Tim McTague, one of a few rotating guitarists. Canon 1DX with 70-200m f/2.8 @ 170mm + f/2.8, 1/200 shutter at ISO 100

Most of my lights were constant lights for these shots; two Westcott TD6s with strip banks on either side and a fluorescent ring light (mainly for the catchlight in the eyes). I used constant lights because I wanted a shallow depth of field so their eyes would really stand out, and it’s difficult to achieve that with strobes. It’s possible, but I didn’t have the right combination of low-powered lights and compatible modifiers to make it work, so constant lights were the way to go in this instance. The background light was an Elinchrom BRX 500 with a reflector aimed at the white wall behind them:

Photo showing ring light and strip bank constant light setup for portraits

If anyone is interested in the TD6s, I think they’re useful for what they are. But the main problem I have with them is there’s no case to store them in with the bulbs in, so you have to unscrew the bulbs and store them in something when they’re being transported/stored or you risk breaking them. If you’re just setting them up and leaving them, then that won’t be an issue.

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