Posts By Brad Moore

Image courtesy of Chris Steppig

Conquering the Sport of Kings

Arguably known as the oldest team sport in the world dating back to 247BC, the Persian army used polo to train the elite cavalry before conquering through the many kingdoms in the Middle East.

Word of mounted armies quickly spread across the eastern hemisphere, soon adopting this training method as the most noble of pastimes by kings and emperors, thus giving it the nickname “The Sport of Kings.”

Coming from an extreme sports background, I had no idea what I was getting into when I found an opportunity to make pictures of an equine sport that I knew little of, other than the cool silhouette on my cologne bottle.

After years of hanging around a polo club on Sundays, learning the sport, making pictures, failing on pictures, and sharing the best, I am now into my third season as the official club photographer at Sarasota Polo Club located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. 

Equestrian sports can be tricky dealing with two completely different species of athletes working together as one unit; but rewarding if you know the basic guidelines on how to make a great horse action picture. These five tips might come off as Polo specific, but many things can be applied to other sports or genres of photography. 

Start The Day Following Action Outside Of Your Viewfinder

Get a feel for the pace of the game and you’ll start seeing things happen consistently, which is where you can hone in on making a particular image. The overall atmosphere will dictate how fast the game is played with important details like player proficiency handicap, crowd size, weather, and time of day all to be considered. Understanding these factors will help when planning on your vantage point to make a stellar image. 

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Horse grooms are usually found on a corner of an end-zone, anticipating mallet changes and ready for athletes to come storming in and switch horses. This can make a unique horse switch image. Know if you are in a prime zone for hit flying balls coming your way.

Wind can play a crucial factor in how far back these world-class athletes will hit the ball, sometimes soaring more than 60 yards before making it through the goal posts. Be cautious of the side boards and the safety zones, which are meant for athletes to slow and turn horses before returning to play.

The end zones make for great images but is the most dangerous place to be as you usually have multiple horses nudging and racing in at speeds of 30mph battling for possession all the way to the goal line.

Tell The Story 

Move and make different images. Standing in one place will really get you the same types of action, but moving to a different part of the field can have huge benefits. The regulation polo field is the size of nearly five football fields combined, measuring in as the largest field in organized sport. That’s a lot of space where neck shots, back shots, blocks, chase-downs, and breakaways can occur.

Use the space to tell the story and take advantage of the action when it comes closest to you. Also, be on the lookout for the classic tea party hats, mallets, horse-grooms, bright colors, and champagne to make interesting images of the atmosphere of the day.

Research

Go to USPA and learn about the game. The goal direction for each team switches after each goal is made. This is to give each team equal conditions for fair play in regard to weather and sunlight.

There are six chukkers (similar to periods) in a regulation game. Each chukker is 7 minutes and 30-second-long, with breaks in between each to allow riders to switch horses, mallets, adjust strategy, and grab a drink of water.

There is usually a halftime between the third and fourth chukker where fans walk out on the playing field and help the staff stomp down divots that the horses make when they turn and/or kick up hard. There are lots of opportunity to make different types of images.

I suggest reaching out to the club to see if they have a photographer that would be willing to go over basic club rules. Remember these clubs are all private that hold a public event on a Sunday or Friday, so the club has the final say on what is permitted and where you can photograph from.

Research horse imagery. Look at the leg/hoof placement, facial expressions of both horses and people, tack details, polo mallet, and ball location. Think about slowing the shutter way down and getting a nice motion pan.  

Share Your Work

Polo clubs and players especially love to see images of themselves defining gravity and chasing a 3-1/2” diameter ball down a massive field. Don’t be afraid to tag the club or athlete when you make a great image. Who knows, it could lead to the horse owner reaching out and wanting to purchase a specific print for their barn or as an advertisement image to rent/sell polo ponies.

Image courtesy of Douglas DeFelice

When I’m not shooting polo, I can be found on the sidelines of major sporting events as a Getty Images photographer, or photographing interior and exterior views of beautiful architecture. I also like to keep a flow of portraiture work to continue learning light and experimenting looks with new athletes.

Along with being a freelance photographer, I have been Dave Black’s first assistant and producer for the past six years, Scott Kelby’s photo assistant for over three years, Photoshop World staff and lighting producer for five years, and workshop staff with Summit Workshops since 2016. 

Thank you Scott and Brad for the opportunity to voice my opinion on a sport I hold so dear to my heart. The action keeps me sharp and in-tune but the connections with the horses is what continues to bring me back.    

Ms. Queenie (left) and Mason Chukker (right) pose beside the Sarasota Polo clubhouse to promote the 2020 Season Mascot partnership with Southeastern Guide Dogs.

The 2020 Sarasota Polo Season runs through April 12, 2020, with public matches held every Sunday and the last Friday of March. 

Where You Can Learn With Me

Find me helping Scott at his May Hands-on Flash Workshop in Florida or at one of the upcoming Summit Workshops including Lighting and Sports where we can work on understanding light, photography tips, assistant knowledge, or general career questions. I’m always willing to sit down and help. 

You can see more of Julio’s work at JulioAguilar.com, and keep up with him on Instagram and Facebook.

How to Shoot for Motion Art with Troy Plota

Learn how to create photographs with the intention of transforming them into motion art using Plotagraph. Join Troy Plota in beautiful Siesta Key for a two part photo shoot on the beach followed by an indoor studio shoot. Images from the shoots will be available for download so you can follow along during the lessons on creating motion art at the end.

During each shoot Troy shares the important considerations that pertain to creating images that will look amazing when animated. After the shoots are complete, Troy works through the process of creating three different motion art projects.

In Case You Missed It: Maximize Your Impact with Plotaverse

Take your photography to the next level with the Plotaverse platform! Join Troy Plota, the creator of the Plotaverse platform, as he teaches you how to get the most out of the Plotaverse suite of apps and utilize the motion art you create to promote your work on social media.

In this class you’ll learn the ins and outs of the Plotaverse sharing platform, how to animate a still photo using Plotagraph, how to apply special effects and overlays to your motion art, how to create advanced motion effects, how to morph multiple photos into an animation, and how to create a portfolio of work that you can use to promote yourself to the world.

Photo By Matt May/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How Do You Become A Sports Photographer?

First, thank you to Scott and Brad for this opportunity to share a bit of my journey as a photographer. It’s my honor to be a guest on here!

As a photographer in the NFL, the title of this post is by far the most common question I receive about my job. While it is the most common, it also happens to be the most complex question to try and answer. Unlike other professions, there’s no clear-cut formula to reach any specific level of professional sports.

To be fair, it’s not a “dumb question.” Photography is a strange profession at times, and wondering how someone got where they are is perfectly normal. Often times when I meet a new shooter, I ask how they got their start or what lead them to where they are, because hearing others’ journeys is truly fascinating.

While there are no specific steps to becoming a professional sports photographer, I can offer some stories from my short career that may help when navigating this crazy business as an up and coming photographer hoping to break into the industry. 

Photo By Aaron Doster/NFL

1. Just Keep Shooting (With Intent)

Original, right? Never heard that one before? I thought not.

This is my number one answer to the question, “How do you become a sports photographer?” Not only is it because that question is way too complex to answer via Instagram DM, but it is also sneakily the most obvious answer.

Repetitions and muscle memory are two small keys to succeeding in sports photography, and they are things that just happen over time. So, if you just keep shooting with intent, you’ll end up just fine. Shooting with intent varies from “just shooting,” because shooting with intent shows that you have a direction you are traveling or something you’re trying to achieve.

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A Guide To Commanding Color with Mark Heaps

Gain the ability to command color in your images! Join Mark Heaps as he teaches you the terminology, fundamentals, theory, and tools to adjust, edit, change, and tweak the colors in your photos. You’ll learn how color exists within Photoshop, how to control saturation, different ways to isolate colors, how to match the color of objects, how to affect the mood of your images by adjusting color, and so much more. By the end of the class you’ll have the skills to approach editing color with confidence.

In Case You Missed It… Advanced Photoshop: The Psychology and Science Behind Color Grading

Join Viktor Fejes for an advanced look at essential elements of color theory. From understanding color models and the science of RGB, to how to apply this knowledge when performing practical tasks such as color correcting and color grading. Viktor starts with the fundamentals and works up to advanced techniques used in cinema. If you want to manipulate color at will, understand the reasons why, and make your images look fantastic while doing it, then this class is for you.

Inside Tips on Building a Great Composite

As a High End Retoucher, I love working on cool images with cool creatives! Over the years I’ve been super lucky to get to work on some really fantastic projects, from movie posters, to ad campaigns, to beauty images. I’ve gotten to work on a wide range of fun projects.

©Columbia Pictures

Of all the genres of images, the ones I get asked to work on the most involve compositing, and, I gotta admit, this is probably my favorite type of project. Pulling off a believable composite involves a pretty wide range of skills. From masking, to color correction, to adjusting lighting, it can take a lot to bring several disparate elements together to create a well crafted image.

©Kate Turning

For this Guest Blog post, I thought it would be good to talk a little bit about some of the most important factors you need to think about when building a composite image in Photoshop. These factors are:

  • Layer Structure
  • Masking
  • Color Correction
  • Lighting
  • Perspective
  • Depth of field

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

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Getting Your Portfolio Online Using Adobe Portfolio with Scott Kelby

Take advantage of the online portfolio option that is included in all Creative Cloud subscriptions, and showcase your work! Join Scott Kelby to learn how to use the latest templates and features found inside of Adobe Portfolio.

In this class you’ll learn how to get started with Portfolio, how to build a single gallery, how to add multiple galleries, how to add a contact page, how to add an about the artist page, and how to customize the most important settings to make your portfolio reflect your personal style and taste. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to use once you learn the basics.

In Case You Missed It… Building Your Portfolio: Editing & Sequencing Your Work

Become a better photographer through editing and sequencing! Join Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor, as she teaches you how good editing and sequencing can help to do a better job of telling a story with your work.

You’ll learn the basics of editing and sequencing, the importance of knowing your objective, how to deal with critique, why you should stand behind your work, and the value in letting go. Stella brings all of these points home in a series of live edit and sequencing work sessions with three different photographic projects.

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