Preparation and visualization are the keys to success for all of my photo shoots. I was told I would have 5 hours with Edson Barboza and I was determined to make the most of that time. The plan was to meet Edson at Ricardo Almeida’s gym in Robinsville, New Jersey after one of his training sessions, so I thought I would spend a day trying to find something interesting in that area. I spent about 8 hours driving around and searching for the perfect setting for Edson. I found a variety of locations which included an aircraft hangar and an abandoned warehouse in Trenton, but finally decided that a greenhouse I stumbled upon would be the perfect backdrop for this shoot.
The greenhouse gave me a couple of different options for shots. The lines of the structure were amazing. The design of the roof allowed for a breathtaking pattern of sunlight to lay across the ground of the greenhouse, and I knew the images would turn out as dramatic as I imagined.
When Edson Barboza arrived he changed into MMA gear and we began the process. The first images I wanted to make sure I captured were the beams of sunlight through the roof of the structure. For the flying knee shot which was published, I started by setting my exposure for the background, and by making sure that the beams of light on the floor, the greenhouse, and the sky were all fairly even. I followed by inserting Edson, and added two strobes to bring him to life. I had him throw a variety of flying knees, jumping from camera right to camera left. I had a beauty dish set up to camera left that exposed his face nicely and created texture across his body. The other light was placed behind and to the right of Edson which acted as a rim light separating him from the background. I also made sure to shoot this image with a 250th of a second shutter speed to ensure the photos were as crisp as possible.
The greenhouse had thousands of misting sprinklers that hung from the overhead. I envisioned this grand backlit mist of water that where Edson could be placed, however, the beautiful mist I imagined was more of a leaky faucet drip once the water was turned on. Talk about disappointment and last minute change of plans!!! It became time to adapt and overcome. Instead of using the greenhouse watering system, I had my assistant hold his thumb over a garden house to give the effect I had originally envisioned.
We shot this image around 1pm with few clouds in the sky. I set my camera to f/11 at 250th of a second which made it dark enough to backlight the drops of water from the hose. Three lights were used to illuminate the water evenly and provide some highlights on Edson. One behind him and off to the left, one directly behind him, and one behind and off to the right. Only one light was in front of Edson and off to the right in order to illuminate and create the highlights followed by shadow accentuating his physique.
I captured exactly what I was imaging from these two complicated lighting setups and then we moved onto the lifestyle portion of the shoot. I utilized the last hour roaming around the greenhouse property with Edson dressed in his Affliction sweatshirt. For the remainder of the shoot, I only used one light to save time and get as many images as possible.
Edson Barboza was fantastic to work with, I couldn’t have asked for a better subject on my first UFC 360 assignment. What a super nice guy! He was extremely accommodating with whatever I had planned and was really comfortable in front of the camera. Thanks so much to Edson for a successful shoot, to Seth Kelly and James Law for giving me the opportunity with the UFC, and to my assistant Dan Maloney for his help that day.
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Thanks for the read!
Special thanks to the Brarboza PR team for the behind the scenes photos.