Shooting Shaquille O’Neal is always fun and I knew the assignment to photograph him for The General Insurance campaign would provide interesting challenges.
First thing you need to know about working with O’Neal is that he is tall – like, really tall. He’s easily more than a foot taller than me. I needed a way to elevate my lens to his chest height that also gave me freedom of movement. Once we had the seamless built and the lighting set, my assistants built a “runway” of apple boxes for me to walk on.
The client wanted images of O’Neal interacting with “The General”, their animated character to be added in post-production. The character is about five-feet tall so we used a short C-stand - and even our petite client – as points of reference for Shaq work with.
Shaq is not shy about saying so if he feels something is off. For example, he wanted the cuffs of his pants to be lower than the wardrobe stylist did. He had no problem speaking up – calmly and in a friendly way – to get what he wanted.
Shaq is also very interested in the craft of photography. Both times I have done portraits of him (the first for his TruTV show “Upload with Shaquille O’Neal”) he has quizzed me on why I use certain light modifiers and how my direction translated into better photographs. All in all, he is easy to work with, playful on set, and open to ideas that translate to better pictures. - Mark Hill