An Excuse For A Portrait Shoot

Recently I was in Arizona to cover the College Football Playoff National Championship. As a big fan of the desert southwest and with a little wiggle room in my schedule, I opted to head out west a couple days early of my ESPN duties, meet up with a friend and went looking for an excuse to make a picture and in this case, a portrait.

I have long been inspired by the majesty of the Arizona mountains and the presence of the saguaro cactus in a landscape. In consideration of that, I turned to my friend Brad Rogers to help pull things together, enjoy some photo fellowship and see what we could find and create.


We kept the kit very light. He supplied a couple Manfrotto Nano stands and we each brought our Profoto B2 kits.

However, our time to spend setting up and doing full recon of a location was significantly abbreviated as Brad’s vehicle was rendered inaccessible for a couple hours which is a story for another day. As a result, we opted to go light and fast. One 3ft Profoto RFI Octa with grid, two B2 packs, the Profoto Air transmitter (Nikon version of course) and the Nikon D810 lensed with a 24-70mm. I also had the thought that the location might photograph well with a tilt shift lens so I brought along the Nikkor 45mm PC lens.

For those that dont know Brad, he is a fitness fanatic. This year he will compete in an Ironman. In pulling this together on short notice, he reached out to some friends to see who would be up for the challenge of giving us a few runs through a desert trail to see what could be created.

The whole shoot took maybe 45 minutes, and that included the hike in to the location and back to the vehicle. By traveling light we were able to move quickly and freely to adjust to the rapidly moving light as the sun set.

My favorite images of the 20 or so we took ended up coming at the very end and were taken with the 45mm PC. Despite not being a regular runner Danielle, a crossfit athlete, put in great work for us and her husband also ended up lending a hand with holding a spare fill light to illuminate part of the foreground while Brad lit Danielle with the octa.

All in all it made for a great day and I certainly plan on coming back to this spot sometime in the spring with a full outfit of strobes and see how much fun we can have in a full day or even a night as well! With enough interest, perhaps we can even have a little mini workshop…maybe something like a 24hour bootcamp!

Until then, here are my favorite images!
Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: Nikkor 45mm PC
Shutter Speed: 1/200
Aperture: f4.2
ISO: 200

Camera: Nikon D810
Lens: 45mm PC
Shutter Speed: 1/200
Aperture: f2.8
ISO: 64



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