Football preview

Sometimes matching pictures with words is easy. Sometimes it's not. The latter was the case with MIZZOU magazine's fall football preview. Writer Marcus Wilkins' story about Coach Gary Pinkel's recruiting success was not an easy one to illustrate. The article spoke specifically about how Pinkel has closed Missouri's borders to retain the best prospects in the state, as well as his success in nabbing great players from the fertile recruiting grounds of Texas.

After brainstorming we came up with the idea of a geography classroom setting, with key players from both states interacting with maps of Missouri and Texas respectively. Great, we had our concept, now all we had to do was find maps big enough to not be dwarfed by our lineman sized models. After coming up empty in a campus search, we ordered a couple of maps online. One problem, the only affordable maps we could find had to be laminated. This would not make lighting the scene easy, but it was our only option.

So we had the concept and the maps, now we needed a location. I new I didn't want just a regular classroom. I wanted it to have a vintage feel to it. A room with character. So, after scouting campus for several days, I found a lecture hall in Lefevre Hall that wooden floors, and real slate chalk boards, not dry erase boards. I knew I found the right building when I saw two vintage desks in the hallway, just asking to be used. Everything was falling into place. The only thing left was to convince athletics to bring the players to a location other than the athletic training complex, which was originally offered to us. After some lobbying, I convinced them to bring the players to the Lefevre Hall location.

We did the shoots on two separate days. Missouri players first, Texas players the following day. The Missouri shoot was more complicated. It was going to be the double truck lead image and included 5 players. We decided to keep it light hearted and fun by having Mizzou kicker Grant Ressell kicking paper footballs through Brad Madison's finger uprights. The Texas shoot was more simple. We used the opportunity to get new quarterback James Franklin front and center. Coming into the season the team had been guarding Franklin's contact with the media, but since he was a secondary shot, they let us photograph him.  Franklin was all smiles, but I was unable to coax Michael Egnew and Jacquies Smith out of their "we mean business" stares.

In the end, I'm happy with the results. There were a lot of factors that went into this shoot, and it's always rewarding when it works out. Special thanks to Blake Dinsdale, Rachel Coward, Allison Olsen and Marcus Wilkins for making this happen. Check out a behind the scenes video shot by Rachel, and produced by Blake.