by Howard Schatz on Feb. 19, 2019
In a new and ongoing project, I am inviting National Football League players to my studio who play the many various positions on NFL teams. I want to demonstrate the physical characteristics that make them so perfectly suited to excel at their specialized positions.
One player who arrived recently for a series of portraits is Matt Judon, a 26-year-old linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Judon, at 6’3,” 262 pounds, is a prime example of what it takes to play one of the most demanding positions in football.
Though I am in the early stages of my project, I have worked with many professional football players in previous projects – for my book ATHLETE, for advertising shoots, for editorial shoots for Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazines. In each case, there were specific goals for the photographs, but the common thread was always to make pictures as powerful and intriguing as the athletes themselves, and that goal continues with the new images.
As with the beginning of so many other projects, I find that I have too many ideas for this new adventure. Not, perhaps, the worst problem to have, but working through them to arrive at images that really work is a problem nevertheless. But the solution is to explore everything I possibly can with the amount of time (and patience) a football player can give me. With each shoot, the direction of the project becomes clearer to me.
Judon arrived with his agent, Jerard Roggio, who works with the well-known and respected agent, Jonathan Perzley of SportStars. Perzley brought two other players that day (Chris Conley of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Demarious Randall of the Cleveland Browns) and another of his agents, Jamie Mullen. Also at the shoot was McKenzie Fox, who does social media for the NFL and spent the day posting videos of the three players to Snapchat.
The Ravens player is big man, not surprising for a pro-linebacker. As with most of the professional athletes I’ve worked with, he was focused, helpful, cooperative and a lot of fun to have in the studio. I have observed and written previously that if an athlete is basically uncooperative and difficult to work with, they rarely make it to the top levels of their sport. To succeed, an athlete needs to be coachable, correctable, and willing to yield to a director. And so, in almost every case, the accomplished professional athletes have taken my direction in the spirit of collaboration, in order to get the best result possible – the same attitude they bring to their sport.
Here are a few of the other images I made with Judon
Originally posted on the blog of Howard Schatz
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Howard has received international acclaim for his work and is one of the most sought-after photographers working today. Over the last 25 years 22 major books have been published of his work; he has won virtually every award in photography and has had over 100 museum and gallery exhibitions world-wide. He has made extraordinary images for such advertising clients as Ralph Lauren RLX, Escada, Sergio Tacchini, Nike, Reebok, Wolford, Etienne Aigner, Sony, Adidas, Finlandia Vodka, MGM Grand Hotel, Virgin Records, and Mercedes-Benz.