DPP Home Profiles Tim Tadder - Ahead Of The Game

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tim Tadder - Ahead Of The Game

Feeding off an unmatched competitive will to beat his own personal best, Tim Tadder’s incomparable work ethic is making him a modern master of commercial photography

Sports Center
Tadder’s images feature strong foreground subjects as the principal graphic element, usually poised at
that peak moment of high-wire, fuel-injected tension. The personalities of these larger-than-life egos and the sports of which they’re so emblematic are what sell products more than anything else, and Tadder knows this. His style is instantly recognizable, but it also stays out of the way. The images are clean and crisp, which belies the intense amount of work that Tadder and his crew put into every project.

His translation of these dynamic personalities into images that seem to barely restrain the energy of the subject has worked well for Tadder, with a portfolio that includes huge personas like Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods, and any number of high-profile companies, including Gatorade, Newcastle Ale and Yamaha.

Tadder’s images feature strong foreground subjects as the principal graphic element, usually poised at that peak moment of high-wire, fuel-injected tension.

His postprocessing work includes a lot of selective contrast and sharpening in Photoshop and painting in with adjustment layers. He also uses Curves and Hue/Saturation to achieve a subtly desaturated touch. Most of the real stylization, though, is done in the field with his gear.

Tadder takes a vanload of lighting solutions with him pretty much wherever he goes, sometimes with up to six or seven people moving equipment for him. He primarily uses Profoto, bringing his Pro-7a and Pro-7b power supplies for broad power sources and his D4 power supplies for the extended channel control they provide for his accent sources. He actually prefers to go on location, and has no problem mixing studio lighting with artificial lighting.

“There are lots of surprises that come from locations in a good way,” says Tadder, “like a musty old fence, or a great receding landscape, or a cool sky that comes out of nowhere. So we definitely get fired up about shooting locations as opposed to shooting in a studio, for sure. Artificial light creates a sense of dimension that doesn’t necessarily exist in traditional photography. You can’t get these skies without throwing a lot of light underneath. And that all probably stemmed from one of my very first visual inspirations, Galen Rowell, who used graduated neutral-density filters a lot.”

Tadder doesn’t use filters, but he does a lot of his own processing work. He’s a Mac guy, with an entirely Apple workflow from the studio to his home, where he spends more time these days with his wife and two daughters. He uses two camera systems primarily, a Hasselblad H3D-39 and a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. He prefers the Hasselblad for its sharpness, but the Canon offers more user-friendly shooting, so he switches back and forth. He also uses a lot of RAID storage devices, never capturing only one version. Tadder’s data is too precious and costly to produce, so he takes the extra step to give another copy to someone else, in case the principal RAID device is ever stolen.

“It’s definitely hard work if you want to be successful at it,” says Tadder, “because there’s a lot to making something that has a particular communicative value.”


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