Over the years Kyle and his family had become good friends. I documented a personal challenge that he was part of, stand up paddle boarding across the Santa Barbara channel, a 26 mile adventure. Other adventures and evenings around the dinner table followed.
I photographed him working out in the off season but I had never taken a proper portrait of Kyle. He is rather private and I wanted to respect that. It got to the point though where I just couldn’t hold back so I asked for a short session in my outdoor studio.
For what I had in mind there is only a 20 minute window of the light being right. That window is towards the end of the day, right around sunset. I built the studio to face north and direct light is not really the issue but right within those 20 minutes it just looks right. Anyways, there wasn’t a lot of time since I was also photographing Kyle’s wife.
Kyle is tall. I am not. And shooting with the Hasselblad I lost another couple inches since I was looking down into it. So I was scrambling to gain some height with the help of apple boxes. We are comfortable with each other but he is not an extrovert so I was trying to find the moment, the opening. I chose a wider angle lens so I could get pretty close and gain access just by proximity. It’s hard to disregard something within 2 feet from your face. I also used a diy light panel so I was able to control the light on his face very precisely. I shot a few frames with my Fuji XPRO2 from a little further away and got what I would call a very clean and safe shot. It’s good but then I also added another light to the background that created a very random shape. I went back to the wide lens on the Hasselblad and I got this portrait that wasn’t so safe. Kyle had just come out of the NBA finals arguably bruised and this shot captured his state of mind a lot better. Vulnerable and under scrutiny but strong amongst a chaotic scenario.