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The Making of High Energy Portraits of World Cup Soccer Fans | Monte Isom

By Chris Nachtwey on April 19th 2014

This June and July, soccer fans from all around the world will stop what they’re doing and cheer on their country during the 2014 World Cup being held in Brazil. New York City based, award-winning sports advertising photographer Monte Isom, is a soccer fan himself, and draws inspiration for thispersonal project, “World Cup Soccer Football Fans,” inspired from the emotion and energy soccer fans bring to a World Cup Soccer Match.


USA American soccer fan face paint from USA photo by Monte Isom

In this behind the scenes video below, Monte shows you how he collaborates with make up artist Elizabeth Yoon to capture the raw emotion of World Cup Soccer Football Fans.

The Setup

Monte was kind enough to share with me his lighting set up and why he choose to use it.

“Having a good time on set is as important as getting the shot you and the client are looking for and one goes hand in hand with the other.  Now the good times stop immediately if you are not prepared technically to capture the reactions by these rapidly moving football fans.  My crew is tight and understands that everyone and all photo equipment needs to be prepped and doing its said job.

 I used all Profoto 8a’s for their short flash duration, as much of my work is focused on capturing dynamic action.  I couple this with the Phase One Df+ (Phase One 645DF+) and only Leaf Shutter lenses to utilize the 1600th of a second flash sync. A bonus is that the v grip from Phase One contains a radio transmitter that sets off the Profoto 8a strobe packs and syncs at this high speed of 1600th of a second eliminating the need for pocket wizards or hard syncing.”


“I used a single key light to emphasize the drama in the soccer fans expressions. If the eyes started to go dark an assistant holding a silver card (20”x16” silver foam core) would bounce a small catch light into the eye. The edge lights are medium strip banks with grids and the background light is a 7 inch reflector with a 10 degree grid spot on it.  The lighting is simple. “

I wanted to keep all the focus purely on the passion the Fans of the World Cup bring to the table.

French Football soccer fan face paint from France photo by Monte Isom

Brasilian Futbol soccer fan face paint from Brazil photo by Monte Isom

South Korean Football soccer fan photo by Monte Isom

Ghana football soccer fan face paint photo by Monte Isom


Personally, I’ve become a big soccer fan over the last few years. I, much like Monte, enjoys the energy that soccer fans bring to a game. I think Monte does a great job of capturing the personalities and energy of these fans. Monte’s on set energy shown throughout the video coupled with the relaxed atmosphere really allows these fans to show their true colors. To top it all off, the awesome body paint adds that extra punch!

 Via: Monte Isom Blog

CREDITS: All photographs by Monte Isom are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

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