Clip: Marcus Mariota for USA Today

 (Craig Mitchelldyer)
Last week, USA Today sent me down to Eugene to photograph Oregon Ducks superstar quarterback Marcus Mariota for this great story about him. Originally, I thought I would shoot him in one of the concourses and on the field at Autzen Stadium, but because of some contruction and what not going on inside I would not be able to. So instead, I scouted out the new football center (an amazing place!) and the indoor practice facility. Because I needed multiple shots I opted for the indoor field so I could have free run of the place and then my secondary shot was going to be in the new weight room, but I wouldn’t be able to setup in there until after they were done using it. Right outside the new building is this pond/water feature and lots of reflective windows that looked cool, I’ll get back to that in a minute.

I decided to use the “O” on the midfield for my first shot. I wanted a kind of super hero type look for him. So I setup 2 lights about 10 yeards away from the center to light the background, one light right in the front to light the front of the image and act as a fill light on the bottom of the frame and a large softbox to light him. I shot the overhead with a camera on a monopod while standing on a bench to get the high angle. I like how it turned out. Here is how it looked behind the scenes:

 (Craig Mitchelldyer)

I also shot some stuff from a lower angle, with and without his helmet on and it wasn’t too bad.
 (Craig Mitchelldyer)

Next, I had a secondary setup along a pretty banged up white wall that would give some nice texture. So I added a green gel to the background light and lit Marcus with one large soft box for this image, which actually turned out to be my favorite of the shoot:
 (Craig Mitchelldyer)

The paper used a shot from this setup as the main image on the website for the story.

 (Craig Mitchelldyer)

Here is how the setup looked:
 (Craig Mitchelldyer)

Because he had just finished practice and I didn’t want to waste his time and felt I had some pretty good stuff, I decided to scrap the weight room idea, but did want to take a photo of him outside. I decided, I’d just walk out there and grab whatever I saw real quick and act like that was the plan the whole time. As we were walking towards the locker room we walked passed the water feature. I thought it would be cool to get him on the water “Marcus is so good he walks on water” kind of idea, I never thought he’d actually go for it. So jokingly as we are walking by I say, half laughing, “it’d be kinda cool if you were standing in the water eh?” I expected to either 1) he look at me like I was bat shit crazy or 2), the Oregon PR staff to jump in and say no way in hell is our star QB walking into the water feature. But to my surprise he says “Yeah! Let’s do it!” so before anyone had a chance to change thier mind I had him walk out onto the water and had my assistant Ryan hold a light overhead and we snapped 4 or 5 frames and that was that. I showed him the image and he says “Cool, my mom will like that.” At that point I told him “Well if your mom likes it, I like it too and you are done!” The paper used it in this morning’s editions around the country. Total shoot time from first frame to last frame: 12 minutes. Here is how it looked in the paper today. My favorite part is the caption at the end it reads “…but no Oregon fans, he cannot also walk on water.” :
 (Craig Mitchelldyer)

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4 Responses to “Clip: Marcus Mariota for USA Today”

  1. Jimmy Hickey Says:

    12 minutes?! You killed, it, great set Craig thanks for sharing!

  2. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:


  3. Jake Mehringer Says:


    I am the senior designer for the University of Oregon Pit Crew (Student Section) and we wanted to know if we could use your photograph above with permission for a Mariota Heisman graphic.

    You could, of course be credited with the photo. Thanks!

  4. 14 of 2014 – Our Favorite Portraits | Portland Photographer Blog - Mitchelldyer Photography - Portland Oregon Photographer Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    […] Marcus Mariota is. I shot the 2014 Heisman winner a couple of weeks before the season opener for a feature in USA Today. Later images from this shoot were also used on the cover of Athlon Sports the week he won the […]

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