ESPN The Magazine

Making the most of a Messi situation: Inside ESPN The Magazine’s World Cup Issue cover

Argentina's Lionel Messi is on the cover of World Cup Issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands  this Friday. (Photo courtesy ESPN The Magazine)
Argentina’s Lionel Messi is on the cover of World Cup Issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands this Friday. (ESPN The Magazine)
Photographer Martin Schoeller made the most of seven minutes - and tight quarters - to capture Lionel Messi for ESPN The Magazine. (Karen Frank/ESPN The Magazine)
Photographer Martin Schoeller made the most of seven minutes – and tight quarters – to capture Lionel Messi.
(Karen Frank/ESPN The Magazine)

With the release of ESPN The Magazine’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Issue on newsstands Friday, Front Row spoke with Karen Frank, senior director of photography, on The Mag’s joint venture with ESPN’s news magazine E:60 to secure one of the most sought after athletes in the world – Argentina national team star and FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi – for the issue’s cover:

How did this experience differ from other Mag cover shoots?
While we don’t always have the luxury of time with all of our cover shoots, this one was of the tightest we have had in quite some time. We found out on a Friday that Messi was available for a shoot in Barcelona the following Wednesday. We were told we’d have a total of two hours with Messi to be split between a magazine photo shoot and E:60 interview. We always go into a photo shoot prepared to work with less time than we’ve been promised and this time although in this case, the shoot was significantly less – a total of seven minutes.

What would you identify as the biggest challenges of this shoot?
There were many: The shoot had to take place at FC Barcelona’s training facility. We were given two small adjoining rooms overlooking the practice pitch – photo took the smaller of the two, which was roughly 200 square feet. We hoped for two lighting set ups – one a tight portrait, and the other a full-length set up that would allow for some more active poses although due to the space limitations, we could only shoot from about the knees up.

We also hoped that we might get some shots of Messi out on the pitch, but in the end, that request was denied. During the E:60 interview, which lasted about 45 minutes, the five members of the photo crew had to remain silent in the small adjoining room with the door closed. Another challenge was temperature. The shoot took place on a cold morning in February and the heat in the rooms provided were shut off – although eventually turned on.

Although after Messi left, [FC Barcelona] did allow our photographer and the E:60 camera crew onto the edge of the pitch to shoot Messi’s new Adidas boots.

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