Brooklyn-based photographer Dylan Coulter has made a name for himself creating iconic portraits of athletes, models, and other notables. For the past two years he has also been the person responsible for photographing the Citibank Winter Olympic Teams (last year he shot the London-bound teams, this year the Sochi-bound teams), a position he takes great pride in. “It was a real honor to be called back for a second year” says Dylan, and you can tell by the tone in his voice, he means it.
Unlike most Olympic photographers who had to journey to Sochi to earn their paychecks, Dylan Coulter had to make his magic in a four day window of time about seven months earlier in the New York metropolitan area. His original plan was to take the athletes to venues that at the very least approximated the appearance of the sports each of the athletes excelled at, but due to the logistics of shooting the entire team in a short window of time, that idea was nixed. So it was off to the studio.
Rather than build elaborate sets or shoot against backdrops that somehow suggest the type of sports the athletes participate in, Dylan decided to go bare-bones by shooting each of them against white backgrounds. Some images with little more than strips of gaffers tape on the floor for positioning purposes. Dylan also shot portraits of each of the athletes close-up and full-body for other applications in the Citibank campaign.
Perhaps the strongest and most difficult photographs he captured were the simulated multiple exposure sequences, a style he originated on a project for ESPN Magazine. Unlike traditional multiple exposure pictures in which a single movement is captured at set intervals on the same exposure, Coulter’s simulated multiple exposure sequences are made up of individual posed images that are lit and composed one at a time and pieced together in post production.
If it seems like a demandingly complex workflow, you’re right, but the final images are stunningly perfect at each stage of the final photograph. “Getting the form right was a big challenge, and the athletes were real troopers and performed as professionals” as they went through their paces, often repeatedly. The athletes also served as consultants in a sense when they reviewed the images, making sure each frame captured the proper form, attitude, and body English.
Dylan Coulter views the athletes he was hired to photograph like he views other photographers and others who practice crafts that require training and discipline, “It’s always exciting to see the differences in form between athletes, the way they run, pitch, serve a ball, there side arms, overhand, and I try to represent each of these professional athletes authentically.”
“My PocketWizard Plus III remote triggers were instrumental in getting me through this assignment. They didn’t only trigger the lights, but in several shots they triggered an overhead camera we rigged for some birds-eye view photographs we shot. I know it’s been said before, but being able to work wirelessly makes life so much easier.”
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