Nick Laham’s series of images for Nike Basketball earned him a win in the Advertising/Corporate category of PDN’s Photo Annual 2018. The shoot’s concept was to document basketball in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan and included both photos captured on the ground and from a helicopter. To achieve an authentic feel, Laham cast local basketball talent and relied on the players for guidance as they played pick-up games on courts throughout the city. The aerial portion of the shoot required Latham and his team to do their own research in advance: He pin pointed every court on a map and his assistant helped the helicopter pilot navigate as they flew over the city.
PDN’s Photo Annual is now open for entries for 2019. Visit www.pdnphotoannual.com to learn more and enter.
PDN: Why did you decide to shoot in black-and-white?
Nick Laham: The client, Nike, wanted the shoot to be in black-and-white. After we chatted about their vision for the shoot, they decided that black-and-white images…would deliver the mood they wanted.
PDN: Can you walk us through the shoot?
NL: It was a site-specific shoot and it took place over two days. On the first day we shot subjects specifically on courts in Harlem. On day two we tried to shoot every court in Manhattan. In every aspect of the shoot, our aim was to make it feel as authentic as possible. I spent quite a bit of time on Google Maps, going block to block from uptown to downtown in Manhattan and marking courts on a master map.
PDN: How did you find your subjects?
NL: We put out a call for basketball players. We wanted to cast local talent.
PDN: What was the most challenging part of the shoot?
NL: The most challenging part of the shoot was the production and planning. We had to stay within budget constraints, so it was important to optimize our shooting windows. In order to create a good library of images, the team had to work together to shoot a wide range of images.
PDN: What do you like most about these images?
NL: I love the way the images sit together. The goal was for Harlem to figure prominently in the images, and to give a complete sense of the basketball scene in the neighborhood. I think we told the entire story. We were rushed on time and we had a lot to achieve; I think the series was a great success.
PDN: What gear did you use?
NL: The project was shot with Canon cameras and prime lenses.