Responses by Martin Schoeller, photographer
Background: After the incredible success of the Nike ad with my portrait of Colin Kaepernick, Wieden+Kennedy asked me to photograph the United States Women’s National Soccer team to promote the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The goal was to create straight, honest and strong portraits—heroic images that show the players’ determination and dedication.
Reasoning: I have been doing close up portraits for over 20 years, but for this series, I decided to pull back a little more to show the jerseys and give viewers more of a reference point to who these women are. I decided to keep the lighting the same as I have done in the past, which highlights the eyes and draws viewers in. The black background adds theatrical drama and having the hair in the ponytails gives the sense that they are ready to play and about to walk out on the field. Not models, but professional athletes.
Challenges: Having only fifteen to twenty minutes with each athlete, considering we did different set-ups for each. However, having worked with many famous people over the years really helped me be efficient in these situations and be prepared to make the most of each minute.
Favorite details: I’m really proud to see my work on billboards. It’s very gratifying to see work in Times Square on this scale.
Anything new: I watched a few soccer games before the shoot to get a better idea of what this team is like. They are so in tune with each other and I got the same sense when I met them in person. They take teamwork to another level.
Specific demands: As a photographer, I like the different challenges each job requires. This one was technically easy in the sense that I was asked to do something I’ve been doing for 20 years. Therefore, I felt at home working on this assignment, and having amazing talent to work with made it so much fun. These women are tough, professional and charismatic. I just had to document them as they are. I hope they will win this year’s World Cup; they deserve it.