Date:  03.2015

Client:  Personal Project

Summary:  A good friend of mine wanted to get a photo of his son with all of his Taekwondo belts.  I wanted to create something unique--something special.  I wanted to approach it the same way I would any commercial, advertising, or editorial photography assignment.  

Concept  

After looking all over the Internet, I really couldn't find exactly what I was looking.  I wanted to display the belts in a unique way, and really involve the boy.  I sketched this, below, as my original concept.  I envisioned the boy kicking the belts in some sort of sci-fi kind of way.     

Taekwondo boy concept sketch

Taekwondo boy concept sketch

Planning & Production

Figuring out how to hang the belts proved to be much more challenging than I could have imagined.  I spent hours trying to figure out how best to hang them, then how best to make them swoop and bend from the boy's kick.  I used a light stand, and ran pins through each belt, then tried several different methods before finally using a hanger to hold them in a swooping flow.  

 

Shooting

The day of the shoot was a lot of fun--but not without its challenges.  The boy had to kick the air, as close as possible to the belts, but without actually kicking the belts.  The silver reflective umbrella on the studio strobe was just the right look.  We balanced that with a hair/rim light speedlight to separate the boy from the background a bit, then set yet another speedlight to give a little extra light to the belts themselves.  Unfortunately it was nearly impossible to get it all right in camera, but I made every effort to do as much as I could to save time in post production.  We then did a traditional shot of him with his belts, and stopped some motion with him kicking a board with his foot, and breaking a board with his hand.

Post-Production

In post production, for the photograph of the boy kicking the belts, I needed to do a full cut out so that I could move the belts closer to the boy.  I then added a blur to the belts to simulate motion.  Finally I added a bit of a smoke texture behind the scene, and added some blue tint and extra contrast to bring it all together.  

Taekwondo boy kicking at his belts

Taekwondo boy kicking at his belts

Taekwondo boy breaking a board with his foot

Taekwondo boy breaking a board with his foot

Taekwondo boy and his belts.

Taekwondo boy and his belts.

Taekwondo boy breaking a board with his hand

Taekwondo boy breaking a board with his hand

Results

I love how close I was able to come to my original concept of having the boy kick the belts!  It was also really awesome to capture the board breaking and the splinters and wood dust flying (no, that part was not made in Photoshop).  I believe that given the same project for a commercial or advertising client, that they would be pleased with the results as well.