Joe Pugliese Shoots the World Cup US Women's National Team
In his latest story with Eight By Eight Magazine, photographer Joe Pugliese worked with a wishlist editorial and creative director to shine a different light on the Women’s World Cup US National Team.
“The editorial we were shooting for was created by Robert Priest, who is a legendary design director. He and his partner created this design group, Priest & Grace, that does all kinds of advertising. Robert Priest came from magazines and was the design director for GQ, and he just has an amazing eye. He loves soccer so he decided to start his own soccer magazine to marry his passions with his profession, and he’s doing a wonderful job at it. It’s a showcase of his design work and his love for soccer. When he asked me to photograph the U.S. Women’s National Team, I immediately said yes.”
The dynamic between photographer and creative director was fluid throughout the project and the collaboration felt natural. “He really let me lead the way on it, it was a total creative collaboration. We were both coming up with ideas and it was really a great collaborative effort. I got to lead the concepts and all the coloring,” explained Joe. “Some of the color changes are for visual relief. I knew this was going to be a sixteen-page portfolio and the idea of every single page being this blast of color or every single color being serene, classic black & white, felt to me like push and pull. I wanted to feel like layers taking on this journey, a dynamic journey, with visual ups and downs.”
The photoshoot took place at the Nike Photo Studio in Culver City in California. Nike hosted the launch for the team's uniforms so the shoot, as well as the set, were worked into a traditional press day for the team. “We were working with limited time and space, so I built the set to have the colors all around it. Some blues, some reds, some warm, some neutral. The shape of the lighting could change based on where I put people," said Joe. "These women, especially when they’re in uniform, they’re asked to sort of perform, to dribble a ball, to hold a ball. I made the decision to say I don’t want a soccer ball in this entire portfolio. It’s a soccer magazine. I just wanted their beautiful portraits in there. I think it was sort of a relief to them in many ways to just not have to do what they normally do at photo shoots which is you know to jump and kick. I wanted to respect them as athletes who deserve a dignified portrait.”
For this shoot, there was no designated cover star. The photographer had ten minutes with each soccer player, and Joe captured each team member as if they could be on the cover. “I have worked with a lot of athletes, but I haven’t worked with a lot of teams together. It was really nice to see the camaraderie on the team. It’s the fact that whether or not they like doing these press days, they all approach it like a team, they’re all very professional, they all have a clear view of their objectives. It was really nice for me to try to be a little more creative with them. Sometimes they’re photographed so often in such little time, that they don’t have the chance to do some photography that leans a little more creative, so I wanted them to have fun with that.”
“Honestly, the highlight of the shoot was working with Robert, he’s an absolute photographer’s dream to work with. He has so much talent, but he really lets you explore and take risks and he supports it. Part of working with Robert is being able to be experimental with color and lighting. Some art directors are more conservative, but he allowed me to push it. It’s rare these days.”