Portraits of the Presidents Cup with iPhone 8 Plus

Posted on October 17, 2017

Three weeks ago I began one of the most challenging and fun assignments I have ever attempted. While shooting the Presidents Cup for the PGA TOUR I had a special job besides doing my normal work for their social media channels. My task was to shoot portraits of as many different people that I could find in and around the tournament at Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey. I would be using the new iPhone 8 Plus, with the new Portrait Lighting Mode. But first, I need to backtrack to talk about how such a fun idea was hatched.

The week before I was in Atlanta shooting the TOUR Championship for the PGA TOUR with my iPhone 7 plus. That event was ending on Sunday, September 24. I was flying to Newark, New Jersey on Monday morning, September 25 to get ready to cover the Presidents Cup. While I was in town on Monday I was also planning on getting the new iPhone 8 Plus. The people I work with at the TOUR are always trying to come up with fun things for me to work on that showcase the iPhone and add some special content across their many online channels. While in Atlanta PGA TOUR Senior Vice President, Marketing Ken Lovell organized a meeting with TOUR Vice President, Brand Marketing David Piccolo, TOUR Director, Creative Services John Rice, and myself. We wanted to do something fun with the new iPhone 8 Plus that you couldn’t do with any other current iPhone. I suggested trying out the new Portrait Lighting Mode that incorporated several different studio lighting effects. I thought that the best way to grab people’s attention would be to shoot portraits of people at the tournament using the specific Stage Light effect that made the background solid black, making the subject look like they had a spotlight on their face.

We all agreed that this could be a cool idea and that if we had dozens of these portraits laid out on a page together, all with the same black background, the presentation would be pretty striking. The special thing about this effect and what made it so appealing was that I could photograph these people absolutely anywhere with the iPhone 8 Plus. Inside, outside, against a crappy background. It didn’t matter- the background would make it look like they all came into my studio!

Between the creatives in our Atlanta meeting and my boss, Photo Official/Supervisor, Photographic Services at PGA TOUR Caryn Levy I was able to hit the ground running early Monday afternoon in New York City as soon as I got my new iPhone. I made my way to the Conrad Hotel in Tribeca where players from both the United States and International teams would be going through television interviews and official portraits shot by Caryn from 8am tip 8pm. My goal was to get into one of the rooms and create my own little station in the rotation to squeeze off a few frames of each player with the new iPhone and see if this portrait lighting mode thing worked our not. The software that makes it all work is still in beta form. Nothing like trying out some newfangled beta software on the best golfers in the world!

Before I could even get started I needed the incredible cooperation of PGA TOUR Entertainment Producer Michael Riceman. Michael and his amazing crew let me use their studio setup and shoot a few quick frames of each golfer that came through their station to be interviewed. He even prepped each player and told them what I was doing to break the ice and made my job so easy. This went on from around 1pm till almost 9pm when the last player, Phil Mickelson, came through. I only shot two or three frames to practice on Michael before USA player Patrick Reed showed up. Smiling Patrick would be my first victim. I hoped it would work! I shot a few quick frames of him then turned the phone around to show him the results. Reed set a trend that continued throughout the day. He was excited to see the new iPhone 8 Plus and loved seeing the technology that knocked out the background and made for a nice portrait (see below).

Before and after of Patrick Reed being photographed with an iPhone 8 Plus in Portrait Lighting Mode prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at the Conrad Hotel on September 25, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Rickie Fowler conducts an interview with PGA TOUR Productions prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at the Conrad Hotel on September 25, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Rickie Fowler poses for a portrait prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at the Conrad Hotel on September 25, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Jordan Spieth poses for a portrait prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at the Conrad Hotel on September 25, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Nick Price poses for a portrait prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at the Conrad Hotel on September 25, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Jason Day poses for a portrait prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at the Conrad Hotel on September 25, 2017 in New York, New York. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Portrait of Gary Player at the Fan Experience at the Oculus prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 27, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Jack Nicklaus poses for a portrait at the Fan Experience at the Oculus prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 27, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait at the Fan Experience at the Oculus prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 27, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait at the Fan Experience at the Oculus prior to the start of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 27, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A member of the military poses for a portrait before the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

The biggest challenge of the week was going to occur on Thursday before the tournament started on the first tee. For the first time in Presidents Cup history three former Presidents of the United States would be in attendance to watch the first groups begin play. One by one they came out. President George W. Bush. President Bill Clinton. President Barack Obama. We knew they were coming and in my mind to make this project successful I needed to make portraits of all of them. I had to somehow grab them during the hectic scene on the first tee and get each one to pose for me for a few frames. Luckily my awesome boss Caryn was there to make it all happen. She took control of the situation and approached President Obama first. He could not have been nicer, especially after I told him a story about our mutual friend Pete Souza. Quickly we moved on to President Clinton and he gave me a nice smile. Right after that it was President Bush. I broke the ice with Bush by telling him I was friends with two of his good buddies Paul Morse and Layne Murdoch. Bush’s face lit up and he said “Good people, good people,” as he smiled for my iPhone. My adrenaline was running high and I could not believe what Caryn and I had accomplished. I had just shaken hands with and shot iPhone portraits of three former Presidents of the United States in three of the most exciting minutes of my life.

Photographer Brad Mangin shakes hands with former President Barack Obama before the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA TOUR)

Photographer Brad Mangin photographs former President Barack Obama with his iPhone 8 Plus before the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA TOUR)

President Barack Obama poses for a portrait during the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

President Bill Clinton poses for a portrait during the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Photographer Brad Mangin photographs former President George W. Bush with his iPhone 8 Plus before the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA TOUR)

President George W. Bush poses for a portrait during the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

The next big quest for the project after getting the players, the Presidents, and some fans was to try and shoot portraits of the players wives and girlfriends. Once again it was Caryn to the rescue and she helped me to photograph most of the United States ladies in the US team cabin on Friday. We found some nice window light and after I did a test shot of Caryn (see below) I was ready. Caryn started by explaining the project to the fabulous Amy Mickelson. Amy could not have been more fun and enthusiastic as she became the first one to pose for us, trying to maintain her composure as Matt Kuchar tried to make her laugh. Once we showed Amy her portraits the other ladies started to come over to have their picture taken. They were pretty amazed at how good they looked. I let each subject select the one they wanted us to use, and if they weren’t happy with any of them we simply shot a few more. The more people we were shooting the better the project was becoming. But we were not done!

Before and after of PGA TOUR Official/Supervisor, Photographic Services Caryn Levy standing in for a test shot in the United States team cabin during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Amy Mickelson poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Erica Herman poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Jena Sims poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Allison Stokke poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Paulina Gretzky poses for a portrait by photographer Brad Mangin and his iPhone 8 Plus during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Caryn Levy/PGA TOUR)

Paulina Gretzky looks at portraits shot by photographer Brad Mangin and his iPhone 8 Plus during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Caryn Levy/PGA TOUR)

Paulina Gretzky poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Jillian Wisniewski poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Izzi Stricker poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Darius Rucker poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Jimmy Roberts poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Deane Beman poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Deane Beman’s wife poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the second round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 29, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A security guard poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Rosalind Schwartzel poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

Ipsa Lahiri poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

A fan poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

PGA TOUR photographer Scott Halleran poses for a portrait during the third round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 30, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

PGA TOUR Instagram account promoting the Portraits of the Presidents Cup by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR

PGA TOUR Instagram account promoting the Portraits of the Presidents Cup by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR

PGA TOUR Instagram account promoting the Portraits of the Presidents Cup by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR

Portraits of the Presidents Cup featured in Studio 18 on PGATOUR.com. (Photos by Brad Mangin/PGA TOUR)

I shot the last few portraits on Sunday afternoon and by the time I added them all up I had photographed a little over 100 different people. Besides putting a few of the portraits out on Instagram the final cool destination for many of the portraits was a gallery in Studio 18 on PGATOUR.com.

I learned to much shooting portraits of over 100 people with the new phone and new Portrait Lighting Mode. Like many things with iPhone photography it comes down to having good light. To make these portraits look good you have to start with good light on the subject. I did not have ideal lighting conditions for everyone, but when I had control I did my best to have nice, even, front light on their faces. Remembering that the software is in beta I could not get too upset when the black cutout was not perfect around a person’s face and hair. So much depends on the color of the hair and the background. It really seemed like the more cluttered the background the better. I had some problems with a clean white background bleeding through on a few subjects, and white shirts caused a few problems.

Looking back at the Portraits of the Presidents Cup I am very proud of what we all accomplished. We were able to get way more people than I ever imagined, and the iPhone 8 Plus and new software worked better than I thought it would. The most important part of the entire project was shooting these pictures was fun. That is why I got into photography to begin with in Mr. Ficken’s basic photography class my junior year in high school in 1982. Anything I can do to keep photography fun is a win for me, and these pictures were fun for the subjects too. Most everyone I shot was able to text the best image to themselves so they got some instant gratification and a fun way to remember their day at Liberty National.

To read more about these portraits check out this story by David Pierini in Cult of Mac.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Mark A Carruthers October 17, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    World class idea/project! Everyone looks soooo relaxed in your images… A+

  2. Z-Man October 18, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Brad

    This is SO FUCKING AWESOME…This may be your greatest work yet…!!! …and with an I-Phone…The portraits are beautiful…some of the FACES…it ranges from Avedon to Arbus
    From Obama to the Deamons’… The PGA must’ve flipped out…more will come for you…Really Spectacular

  3. Doug McWilliams November 8, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Brad,
    I just ran across your images from the President’s Cup — What fun for you. Pretty amazing feature that you got to use with the new iPhone 8 plus. Beautiful work, with is what I always expect from you .

    CHEERS, Doug

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *