Prequel to the Sequel

Portrait of a National Champion

Posted in Editorial, Sports by brmeyer3 on 03/16/2011

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a portrait of Andrew Riley, who runs hurdles and sprints on the Illinois track team. Riley recently won the 60 meter hurdles event at the NCAA national championships and will be trying out to compete in the upcoming Olympics.

When I was asked to cover this, I knew I wanted to create a silhouette essentially by rim lighting Riley and not have a fill light, and capture him jumping over a hurdle. I placed two strobes, one in a soft box and the other with a half-closed umbrella, aiming at his back and front and had them slightly behind, just enough to hit the edges of his arms, face, and legs and wrap around slightly, still leaving his figure dark and underexposed.

Josh helped me out set up my lights and get everything ready so we didn’t waste much time with Andrew, and I was able to capture this image in only 2 shots. This shot came out exactly like how I imagined it, but my only gripe is that Andrew didn’t show up wearing running shirts and jersey. So I had to deal with him wearing his warm up clothes. I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

*Image copyright Brad Meyer and the Daily Illini

A week full of pole vaulting

Posted in Editorial, Sports by brmeyer3 on 03/02/2011

Over the weekend I stopped by the Big Ten Conference indoor track championships that were held in the Armory to grab some photos for the paper. I’m naturally attracted towards the pole vault competition because I vaulted for two years in high school. I also knew that we had a freshman, Matt Bane, on our team that is really good, and was probably going to place high in the event, which is content the paper was looking for. Bane ended up taking first in the vault and set a new personal record.

While watching others jump, I became aware of the super clean graphical background, something rare in the Armory, behind the crossbar and wanted to grab a frame using it to my advantage. I also decided to include the entire cross bar and use the standards as “bookends” for my photo. I’ve also got this thing going on where I’m composing and cropping my shots for a a 2:1 ratio format.Hopefully I don’t exhaust it too soon.

Illinois’ Matt Bane clears the bar in the pole vault competition during the Big Ten Indoor track championship held at the Armory on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011.


After his stellar performance, Matt ended up being awarded Illini of the Week from the Daily Illini, and I was asked if I could go out and make a portrait or him for the paper. I agreed to shoot him, but quickly realized I had no idea on how to make a pole vault portrait interesting, I had a case of writer’s block. When I arrived I was told I wasn’t allowed to have him take a couple jumps because he wasn’t dressed to do any physical activities, nor was I allowed to shoot his feet, because he was wearing sandals. Knowing I had a very limited amount of time with him, and had certain restrictions, I just had him hold his pole right in front of him. There are probably a ton of different things I could have had him do, but my brain fart prohibited me from it. I am fairly happy with my lighting on it, and I think it produced the most three dimensional looking photo I have ever churned out. My only gripe about the photo is the weird shadow on the right side created by one of my rim lights.

*All images copyright Brad Meyer and the Daily Illini

“Recent” band shoots

Posted in Bands, Personal by brmeyer3 on 02/22/2011

Here are my two most recent band shoots. I’m starting to like what I am doing with my band promos editing wise, and I think I’ve come a long way since I started. But I need to become a lot better and flushing out ideas and concepts for these shoots.

The first was Rosaline and I shot them back in November. Ideas were short between us and we were running out of sunlight, so we just drove to a nearby forest preserve, hiked through a ton of dead reeds, and knocked
out a couple shots.

In January my buddies in Admiral of Black contacted me to take some shots of them for their upcoming album. They talked to their local watering hole and got approved to shoot inside the bar before it opened. I was pretty pleased to hear that because they wanted to do a more of a narrative shot, rather then them posing (which we still did anyways). The guys also had an old Cadillac from the 80’s that they had painted flat back (it looked pretty bad ass) and wanted to incorporate that into some shots too.

*All images copyright Brad Meyer

Knockout Kid promos

Posted in Bands by brmeyer3 on 10/19/2010

A few weekends ago I drove up to the suburbs to shoot promo photos for Knockout Kid. They were a great group of d00ds who had a ton of character and made the shoot really enjoyable. Im really liking shooting these pop-punk bands because they actually want some emotion and a narrative in their photos, whereas metal bands just stand in a line and try to look way too tough, which isn’t that exciting visually. For some reason i felt like bitmapping some of the images, it’s different and i felt like it worked for the band and how the photo has a solid yellow background. Mikey Kay came along with for the shoot and grabbed some behind the scenes photos. Later he filmed an interview of me for a new website he’s launching tomorrow (Oct. 20), www.isonoise.com, which sounds really cool. My footage wont be featured for some time tho.

*All images copyright Brad Meyer

*Behind the Scenes photos copyright Mikey Kay

First sportrait of the year

Posted in Editorial, Sports by brmeyer3 on 10/18/2010

2 weeks ago the Sports Editor at the Daily Illini asked if I was available to take a portrait of a swimmer and I jumped at the chance. I feel like swimming is by far the hardest and most boring sports to shoot when they are actually competing (everyone looks the same and 90% of the time their heads are facedown in the water). But swimming portraits come very naturally for me and I have an endless amount of ideas of them in my head. The first idea that jumped out at me that I could pull off in a very short amount of time was to shoot the swimmer half submerged in the water and have my camera almost on the surface of the water. I wanted to completely kill the ambient light and use one light on the side, and have a rim light behind her to help her pop from the dark background. Josh helped me out with setting up the shoot and he acted as my boom and held my flash out over the water for the rim. The photo came out exactly how I envisioned it and I didn’t drop any of my gear in the water or electrocute the girl from my battery powering my strobe. I really hope I have a ton more opportunities to shoot portraits of swimmers, because I have a lot more ideas cooking up in my head.

*Copyright Brad Meyer and the Daily Illini

Orange walls are pretty cool

Posted in Editorial by brmeyer3 on 09/14/2010

About a week ago I was asked by my boss to come up with an idea for a story about Sorority Rush and how it is diverse (which I dont think it really is). They wanted to include the shirts that all of the girls have to wear during the weekend of being led around campus to all of the houses. My idea was to do a portrait showcasing the shirts using girls of different races, and not identify anyone. My solution for that was to crop off their heads. After running around the Illini Media building for a wall big enough to the portrait on that wasn’t white because the shirts were white, I found one that was an awesome orange color. I set up 1 light to keep it simple and put it about 3 feet above me and I shot right underneath it, which resulted in almost of a ring light shadow on the wall, which is something new for me and I will probably experiment with it more in the future. The hardest part of this was to find girls of all different races and ones of the same height to make this work. I had to end up liquifying some of the girls shorter or taller so they would all be around the same height.

*All images copyright Brad Meyer and the Daily Illini

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From The Sidelines Promos

Posted in Bands, Personal by brmeyer3 on 08/14/2010

Last weekend I took a long drive up to Vernon Hills to take some promos of the pop-punk band, From The Sidelines. They told me about an abandoned house they wanted to shoot at and I was excited to shoot there. The dead house ended up being in the middle of the woods and was infested with mosquitos ( I think I ended up getting bitten over 30 times). They also didnt want to do traditional boring shots of them trying to look way to tough, which is what almost all bands do and I get bored with that really fast. They wanted more of a narrative of exploring the house and have this gorilla/zombie sneaking up behind them, which was something different for me to shoot and a bit of a challenge to make work. These photos had probably the most extensive post processing I have done yet on anything, which is different from my newspaper edits, where I keep my editing as minimal as possible. Included are 3 photos of my work progress: Straight out of camera, processing in Lightroom, then Processing in Photoshop. Also included is a standard shot of them in a 2:1 crop, which I’m really into all of a sudden. Lighting was my B800 into a socked beauty dish boomed over them, and a 430ex firing on the gorilla or behind them as a rim light.

Camera RAW:

Post Lightroom:

Post Photoshop: Final Photo

*All images copyright Brad Meyer

Goodbye sun!

Posted in Personal by brmeyer3 on 05/30/2010

This past week I ordered a new strobe ( Alienbees b800), a beauty dish (which I have been wanting to get for over a year now), a softbox and some other minor camera things after receiving a check from the university for a video project I did for them. This strobe has more output then my old one, and works a lot better with my vagabond battery, which makes location work much smoother without things freaking out. I took the new strobe and beauty dish out in my backyard to see how much I could over power the sun by, and had my family stand in front of the camera for a few minutes. I was shooting at ISO 50, 1/200 of a second, and from F/18-22 with my strobe at full power using the dish. If the background was dark enough (pine trees), I could completely knock out any ambient light and make it black. Now I want to start using this stuff on some bands to make my portfolio stronger and have more variety.

*All images copyright Brad Meyer

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Sports Portraits

Posted in Editorial, Sports by brmeyer3 on 02/17/2010

I love doing portraits of athletes, because that means I can pull out my strobes and get to light them in an edgy style. I feel though that I am starting to get redundant with my lighting and style of them, (really under exposed background, 1 light to the side of the camera, and maybe a rim light if I have access to another strobe). Maybe this is because I literally only have a few minutes of the athletes time to grab a photo of them, so I stick to a tried and true way. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Im really going to start browsing the web to hopefully get some new ideas to break outside of my box and to try new lighting setups.

*All images copyright Brad Meyer and the Daily Illini