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Go inside a 1-on-1 athlete portrait session with Creative Sports Photography

Sometimes, team picture day just isn't enough.

Let's just admit it. Can team picture day, even the experiences provided by Creative Sports Photography, fully capture who your family's athlete is and the journey he or she is following?

No. It just can't.

A photographer gets, what, five minutes at most with each player?

High school basketball player dribbling in a locker room
Follow CSP as we go through what a 1-on-1 athlete portrait experience is like.

For many parents, they're seeking something more for their daughter or son. A greater effort. A more comprehensive service. Something that better represents their child, what this time in their child's life means, what it means to them to be their child's No. 1 fan.

Today, I want to take you inside what a 1-on-1 athlete portrait session is like. You'll see how you're able to get so much more out of these athlete portrait experiences than you can get from team picture day.

And the images you see on this post, they all came from just one athlete portrait session that lasted only about an hour. That's it. That's all it took.

Let's dive in.

When you arrive

By the time you arrive at the field, court, park, or pool for your athlete portrait session, more than likely I'll already be there with my assistant. We'll be set up. We'll be ready to go.

That's important. It's a huge step toward success. This way when you and your family's athlete arrive, a plan and workflow will already be in place.

This unfortunately doesn't always happen in the world of portrait photography.

Behind-the-scenes of a photo shoot in a basketball locker room
I like to arrive at an athlete portrait session early so you can have confidence in the plan.

You might've even had that photographer who's flustered and unsure of what he or she is going to do with the light and environment they've been given. It can be stressful for the photographer and the person being photographed.

I'm a planner, I guess. I want you to feel comfortable and have confidence in me and my team that we're prepared and that you're time with us is going to be well spent making amazing athlete portraits.

We've scouted the location for the best spots to create athlete portraits. We've tested the lighting. We're ready to rock with you.

Making the first portrait

Now it's time to rock.

I like to begin a 1-on-1 athlete portrait session with a simple image. Nice and easy. Nothing too complicated or crazy. Let's ease into this like warming up before a game.

A basketball player sits on bleachers in an old gymnasium
Athlete portrait sessions with CSP begin with a nice and easy image.

And doing so often leads to my favorite moment of every portrait session.

The first look.

I love showing the first image to the athlete in front of the camera (and their parents, if you've joined us). Love love love it. I'll show the LCD screen on the back of my camera so we can see what we've all created together.


It's the first chance to see what's possible, the first time your family's athlete sees themselves in an image with creative lighting, the first time they (and you) see themselves in a way you may have only ever imagined.

Now it's real. Now it's exciting. Now it's kickass time.

Making the session rock

This is where the fun truly begins.

We'll move around the field, pool, park or court where you're portrait session is taking place. We'll take what the sun, sky or indoor environment give us and get you the best athlete portraits we can do.

High school basketball player holding a ball in front of a red wall
To create this look, I placed a strobe light with a red gel behind Chris and flashed it on an ordinary cinder brick wall.

During that time, I like to chat with the athlete, get to know them better, understand where they've been and where they want to go with the sport they love so much.

This is important. A connection between the photographer and the person being photographed leads to better portraits.

This whole experience, after all, isn't about me or my camera. It's about your family's athlete.

 A basketball player holds two balls at center court.
After those first few images, we'll explore your home court or field to find a variety of different portraits.

Smiles and game faces. Any expression that truly captures who your child or teenager is.

I'll often share what I'm thinking so you and your son or daughter know what's happening behind the camera. That's important. It's the worst when you're with a photographer and they aren't communicating to you what they're thinking, seeing, and feeling.

Once we've done the good work, it's time for the finale.

Getting those action portraits

Action portraits are exclusively offered with 1-on-1 athlete portrait sessions. It's the only way to get them, and they're often a youth athlete's favorite images.

Youth or teenage athletes are made to move. So let's get them moving.

A high school basketball player drives for a layup.
The grand finale of all 1-on-1 athlete portrait experiences are the action shots.

We'll work together on the creative lighting and what your family's athlete can do and do safely.

It might take us a few times. Might take us a dozen or more. But we'll work hard to get an action portrait (and more likely more than one) that you'll love.

That's when we wrap up. After a good hour or so, we've made a ton of athlete portraits, unique and exciting, meaningful and memorable.

After two weeks or so, you'll see the gallery of what we've made together.

And I'll be around to help you order the perfect prints. I know it can be overwhelming, deciding which ones to print and display on a wall, but I'm here to help guide you through that.

Athlete portrait experiences like these are not for everyone.

But they are for you if you and your family's athlete want more than the standard team picture day experience, want to celebrate all that your family's athlete has accomplished and dreamed about.

I can't wait to get started with you. To begin, click here.

Dave is the owner of and chief image maker at Creative Sports Photography, an elite portrait service for athletes of all levels. CSP is based in Lancaster, Pa. and available anywhere.


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