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It Takes A Team–Calendar Shoot


Sacramento Kings Dance 2011 Team Calendar

Calendar Photography Shoot, Bikini

While this image may not necessarily appear in the calendar, this is a sneak peak at the quality you”ll find in the Sacramento Kings Dance Team Calendar.

I just returned from three back-to-back trips, including guest speaking at Photo Plus Expo in New York, followed by a quick trip home back to Texas before jet setting off to Las Vegas where I photographed 15 gorgeous dancers for the Sacramento Kings 2011 Dance Team calendar. This assignment involved almost 40 people.  Then from Las Vegas I headed home for about 34-hours, before leaving for the airport at 3:30 a.m. for my weeklong Virgin Islands photography workshop.  So since I’m far behind on Lens Diaries, I’d figure I’d give you a double photo diary of sorts to get a feel of how hectic it gets sometimes—this is a first of two, back-to-back entries for Lens Diaries™.

I’ll skip the Manhattan, Photo Plus Expo trip for our first diary, the calendar shoot. This was the first time in the history of the Kings, and probably the NBA, where we did an extremely high-end shoot, as the owners of the Kings wanted to go all out on this calendar and thanks to the folks at Maloof Sports and Entertainment, we pulled out all the stops with support from the Sacramento Kings, Samy’s Camera in Los Angeles, Leica, HoodmanUSA, Hensel Lighting, Chimera Light Modifiers, Rosco gels, California Sunbounce, Amp Salon, the Palms Casino and other supporting staff.

”Photographer”s Toolbox”
Camera: Leica S2 Medium Format Digital Camera
Lens: Leica APO ELMAR-S 1:3.5/180 MM
Effective Focal Length: 180mm (for 35mm DSLR, eqv. 144mm)
Shutter Speed: 1/125th
Aperture: F/11
ISO: 160
White Balance: 6000K
Lighting: Multiple Hensel Lights including Ringflash plus Chimera Light Modifiers

This calendar started with a simple conversation I had with Gavin Maloof back in December where we agreed on the calendar shoot while I was conducting a photography workshop at the Palms Casino, another Maloof venture. Over time I coordinated with his staff and the shoot evolved into utilizing an Executive Producer, Dance Team and Creative Manager, Company Manager, four make-up and hair stylist from the Amp Salon, Hensel Lighting, five photography assistants including Playboy’s top assistant Joel Flora, Gavin’s personal housekeeping staff, the Palms Casino hotel manager down to the casino limo drivers. A photography shoot for a major calendar of this scope requires a team effort, not just a small group of people.

The situation involved working around my schedule and the dancers’ schedule.  Between workshops and speaking engagements along with the start of basketball season, I flew in on Wednesday along with my assistants.  Immediately after my arrival, the limo driver took me to the Palms Casino where we picked up Joel and headed out to Gavin’s mansion, the shooting location.  I’d been to Gavin’s house before but wanted to give Joel a tour so he’d get an idea of my expectations of the shoot.  After spending about thirty minutes there, we headed back to the Palms where I would check-in and then feed my assistants at the world famous “Little Buddha,” located in the Palms Casino, were we enjoyed many Asian entrées including George Maloof’s famous sushi roll, “George’s Roll.”

Sacramento Kings Bikini Calendar Shoot, Dance Team

Here are a few of the almost 300 behind the scenes photos posted on my Facebook.

The next morning, Thursday, around 9:00 a.m., while my assistants and I were already at Gavin’s house, the first group of dancers, Group A, along with key staff members of the King’s organization arrived at the airport tired from working the previous night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. You can bet they were all exhausted as it was a late night game and the season opener.  By the time the dancers, staff and four make-up artists and hairstylists arrived we had our photography and lighting gear assembled.  Joel and I then walked the property with the Executive Producer, Dance Team Coordinator, Hensel Lighting technician and selected shooting locations and then Joel went to work with the other assistants to ensure we had proper lighting and correct camera angles.

Notice I”m in the water shooting with the Leica S2 and the Hensel Ringflash.

Our first dancer was ready just after lunch, and obviously this is not the time of day for shooting outdoors, but this is why professional photographers use large scrims.  As the lighting gear went up and during the shoots themselves, I’d grab my iPhone and post behind the scenes images on my Facebook, where you’ll see almost 300 photos, though most are iPhone quality, I posted them to give you an idea of what we were going through.  We worked until almost 10:00 p.m. that night as the second group of dancers, Group B, arrived and checked in the Palms Casino just before midnight. I wanted to start building rapport with the second group, so I met them as they arrived at the casino and introduced myself.

Behind the Scenes, Bikini Calendar Shoot

When shooting at the wrong time of day, scrims are a must to control harsh lighting.

On Friday morning, my assistants and I headed out to Gavin’s house around 7:30 a.m. and we began photographing the models by 9:00 a.m. and wrapped up with the group shoot of all 15 dancers after 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning.  This was our longest day and the group shot included the dancers patiently waiting in Gavin’s heated swimming pool as we checked positions and composition during several test shots—basically I’d shoot, ask the models to hold their positions, as the Executive Producer, the Dance Team Manager and I reviewed the shots on the computer. This took two rounds before we went for the final shots. By then, everyone was physically exhausted, but we still had to be ready for another day.

”Special Thanks”
Special thanks to the following companies for their support for this shoot:
Maloof Sports and Entertainment
Palms Casino
Leica Cameras
Samy”s Camera
Hensel Lighting
Chimera Lighting (modifiers)
Lightware Cases
California Sunbounce
AMP Salon

Saturday came early as we headed back to Gavin’s house by 7:30 a.m. to get our “insurance” shots of five of the dancers before wrapping it up around 7:00 p.m. where we feverously packed as I had a flight to catch in four hours.  From there I went straight to the Palms Casino, picked up my other luggage, then headed to the airport to catch the red-eye flight home just to be back at the airport at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, literally being home for about 36-hours, just enough time to get some laundry done and repack my gear for the week-long Virgin Islands photography workshop.

That’s were we close by saying it takes a “team effort” for calendar shoot of this scope. Now it”s time to work on the next photo diary entry for the Lens Diaries™ photoblog which will feature some photographs from the Virgin Islands and the Leica S2 camera system.  You can find out about our next Virgin Islands and other photography workshops at this link: Photo Workshops. Until then, don’t forget our military service members, their families and friends, and soon you’ll be able to purchase this lovely calendar—look for it soon!  Thanks!

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  1. Nice light! Beautiful work.

    • Robert,

      Thank you! Nice work on your photoblog too! Thanks!

  2. Great post Rolando! It’s always fun to see the behind the scenes activity.

    • Frank, thanks for your kind words! All the best, Rolando

  3. This shot is what keeps my trying. Everything from the pose to the setup, the clarity, smoothness, and setting. I want to take pictures like these!!!! Thanks, Rolando for the inspiration and education.

    • dlabarre, thanks, but as the article mentions, it takes a team effort for such a big project and it makes it easier for me to concentrate on getting such a great photo. Thanks again, and please spread the word around and don’t forget to facebook like and retweet–it helps the photoblog keep going! Thanks!

  4. I just found this website from You’re really a photographer of high caliber. The models you take are exceptionally beautiful.


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Welcome to (Lens Diaries™), a hybrid photography blog with social flair. The photoblog provides photo tips, photo tutorials and photo diaries by professional photographer, author, writer, speaker and social media consultant, Rolando Gomez.

Lens Diaries™ is open to all levels of photographers, beginners to advanced, including fine art photography, fashion photography, wedding photography, portrait photography, people photography, baby photography, sports photography, nature photography, iphoneography, landscape photography, studio photography, underwater photography, etc.

Our primary photography focus is digital photography and digital cameras. From iPhones to Canon’s and Nikon’s, you can count on us!