Sports Portrait Photographer: Panini’s NFL Rookie Premier

Oakland Raiders Quarterback Connor Cook poses for a portrait by Chicago photographer John Gress
Oakland Raiders Quarterback Connor Cook poses for a portrait by Chicago photographer John Gress
Oakland Raiders Quarterback Connor Cook poses for a portrait by Chicago photographer John Gress

 

For the second year in a row, Panini America hired me to photograph the NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles. Each spring, following the draft, the league’s 40 top prospects converge on the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum for a day of sports photoshoots with a few select photographers.

 

Portrait of houston texans tyler ervin by Chicago photographer John Gress
Sports Portrait of Houston Texans’ Tyler Ervin by Chicago photographer John Gress

 

Panini is the world leader in officially licensed collectibles & the leading multi-national publisher of trading cards, stickers, comics & children’s magazines.

 

Portrait of houston texans tyler ervin by Chicago photographer John Gress
Portrait of Houston Texans’ Tyler Ervin by Chicago photographer John Gress

 

The images I created for Panini have been published on several lines of their football trading cards.

 

Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott by Chicago Portrait Photographer John Gress
Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott by Chicago Portrait Photographer John Gress

 

I decided to create a series of composite images for my sports portfolio to provide some variety as all of these images were captured on a white background in Los Angeles. Creating composite portraits is a lot more difficult than it looks as you have to experiment to find background images that match the color scheme of your subject and are shot with the same lens and at the same elevation.

 

 

Here are some of the cards created by Panini’s brilliant graphic designers. Its really an honor to see my portraits on their products. Not only is it because I enjoy seeing my work in print, but because I used to collect cards and autographs before I discovered photography.

 

Sports Portrait Photographer behind-the-scenes

Los Angeles Rams Jared Goff poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress
Los Angeles Rams Jared Goff poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress

 

I placed two different sets of lights on the same set. Then I set up my PocketWizard to automatically alternate between the sets, that way I could press the button twice per pose and capture the player in each set-up.

 

Denver Broncos Paxton Lynch poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress
Denver Broncos Paxton Lynch poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress

 

Art direction by Tre Hattier and assisting and behind-the-scenes photos by Oscar G. Elizondo,

 

chicago bears Jordan Howard poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress
Chicago Bears Jordan Howard poses for a portrait by LA photographer John Gress
Chicago magazine photographer portrait of Gilberto Soberanis
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