Here at Luke Photography, many of the sports team photos that I do in Fairport and the Rochester area involve creating composite team photos. I prefer this rather than the traditional team photos because, well, it's not traditional. I want people to stop and look at the team photos and study them because they're different.
Does it take longer to do? Certainly.
Then why do I do it? The first reason has already been stated: they look different.
Why do they look different? It all has to do with the lighting.
By photographing each athlete individually, I can make sure the light is perfect on each and every one of them. I can also pick the best pose for each athlete, as I take a couple of photos of each of them, and pick the one that will fit into the team composite the best. The backgrounds are then stripped out and I begin building the team photo.
There is a saying that the devil is in the details. Nowhere is it more true than when doing these composites. If you don't create realistic shadows between players, shadows under their feet where they meet the floor, and reflections on the glossy gym floor, it will look very two-dimensional and fake, and it will be obvious what you've done, because it looks like the players were cut out with scissors and pasted on the paper. The biggest compliment I get is when people cannot tell between my composites and the traditional team photos that I do.
Here is a time-lapse video of the entire process, from setting up the lights to building the composite: