How to make Northeast Philadelphia Look like Dallas!

I live and work in the Philadelphia area. I have clients all over the country and frequently travel to their locations. I received a call from a local agency in the area asking me if I would be interested in photographing an older man coaching a young football team in Texas. I immdeiately had visions of big blue skys, beautiful late afternoon light, open spaces, goal posts, scoreboards lit up. Of course I said yes.

The client then said, "Well the shot isn't really being done in Texas it is being done locally," My reply was, " that's okay I know of a couple of local playgrounds that are pretty open and look as if they could be anywhere in the US." The art director then said, "we already have a location and a team." I asked where the field was and was informed that the field was in Northeast Philadelphia. The Northeast is a portion of the city dominated by brick rowhouses. There is virtually no open space in the Northeast. Originally I was told the shoot needed to be done on a weekend afternoon. All right so I was giving up the open spaces but I still thought I could have the blue sky, afternoon sun, goal posts, and score board.

Then she said' "Oh by the way we need to shoot it in the evening because that is when the team has the field," There went the blue sky, and score board. Then she told me where the field was, I went and scouted it on a rainy stormy night. I got there and it was a practice field, but it was set up for soccer and baseball not a goal post in sight. I went searching for lighting and found the only lights were those which pointed to a basketball court which was adjacent to the field. I went looking for outlets and there were none to be found. The field was bordered on the other 3 sides by rowhouses. Not a bad scenario if you want the picture to say Philadelphia but a disaster if you are trying to make the place look like Dallas.

I called the art director first thing in the morning to inform her that we needed to make some changes in the original ideas since none of the features we had expected were there.

We reformed our plans and decided to use the darkness to our advantage. Fortunately if we chose the correct angle I would be able to use the lights on the basketball court to give the feeling of stadium lights, and by renting a couple of generators I would be able to use my strobes to provide the light for the team.

Shoot day came and thirty minutes before leaving I received a call from the assistant I was planning to use, saying that she wasn't going to be able to make it. I nearly paniced, I am used to working alone, but with all the lighting and the generators I needed extra hands. There were just too many variables for me to do the job without qualified help. Fortunately I remembered one of my best friends and a great photographer in his own right had told me that his job for the day had been canceled. I called him and thankfully he agreed to help out.

The photography for the job was easy it was the planning and getting there that was a challenge.