After a series of three days of scheduling and location availability falling apart, I managed to get in a portrait shoot with high school basketball player Deshaun Thomas for The News-Sentinel's Prep Sports Player of the Year. Everything that could have gone wrong did - until we finally started shooting when it all came together.
Thomas is one of the top high school players in the country and has often been compared to LeBron James. The Ohio State recruit even has a photo hanging in the living room of his house of himself together with the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar. Thomas has pictures from games played all around the country as he regularly travels to play in AAU tournaments. Next to all those pics is the edition of ESPN Rise magazine that features him on the cover. (I was a little disappointed I didn't get that portrait assignment, but that's the way it goes.)
In any case, the 6'-7" junior is immensely talented on the court. He has an strong inside game, can nail the three all day long and helped lead his high school team, Bishop Luers, to back-to-back Class 2A Indiana state championships, the first two titles in school history. Thomas averages more than 30 points a game and if he can push that number to 33 ppg next season he will be on track to break the all-time Indiana state scoring record set by Damon Bailey in 1990.
Our location, the third in three days, had unforeseen scheduling conflicts that took all of my set-up and light test time, but Thomas was a good sport about it. He started dunking and letting some of the kids at the location take pictures of him then he posed with the young players so the parents could grab a quick photo.
After I got the set all ready to go we started shooting but I decided quickly to go a different direction. So, I got reset and things starting going smooth. I had some good pictures in, and tried a few others that presented some new thoughts. Finally I was ready to wrap, but Deshaun was worked up now and he wanted to try a few other things. Next thing you know, he was showing me action poses he liked then I would throw in other suggestions that I liked and we were rolling again. I finally had to cut it off after an hour and a half so I could strike the set, grab him some dinner and get him back home.
Despite my frustrations with uncontrollable circumstances, doing nearly the entire project on my own time and dealing with others around me who don't understand why I do what I do, we made some pictures that both Deshaun and I like. There are things I would have done a bit differently if I'd had time to test, but we made it happen under tough conditions.