Sandro: Scouting Report

Photos © 2004, Sandro, All Rights Reserved

"A lot of people, that camera is in front of them and there's a fear, an anxiety that rises inside them. You need them to look past the camera and connect with you."

"You've got to have a game plan," Sandro says, and there's no pun intended. He's talking about photographing Minnesota Timberwolves' forward and NBA MVP Kevin Garnett for an upcoming Adidas campaign, but he could be talking about the creation of any of the extraordinary portraits he makes for ads, books and personal projects.

"I've been preparing for the Kevin Garnett shoot for two weeks," Sandro says. He hasn't met or talked with Garnett once during those weeks, but when the seven-time All-Star walks into Sandro's studio, the photographer will know everything he needs to know about him. Good thing, because Sandro's going to have only two hours to create eight different ads. "It's a lot of work in a short period of time," Sandro says, "and I need to know exactly how Kevin moves, how he stands." So, just like a coach, Sandro's been watching film, learning tendencies and planning moves. "I can't try to pose him in a position that's not natural for him. I need to know how he typically moves and stands and what he looks like in those positions so the ads will be true to him and true to life."

For Sandro, a game plan can include a concept for the ads. Clients who take full advantage of his instincts, talents and street-wise savvy get ideas as well as photographs. "They often come in with little sketches and ask me, what should we do with this, where should we go with this, and I'll create a mood and a setting for their message."

Sandro's main goal when working with a subject is to relax the person. "Most people are a little fearful in the studio." Someone like Michael Jordan, with whom Sandro has worked, lives in the media--"cameras were pointed at him all the time. He was special in the way he reacted to a camera; he was extraordinary, not the norm. A lot of people, that camera is in front of them and there's a fear, an anxiety that rises inside them. What you need them to do is look past the camera and connect with you." Sandro makes the connection with respect and gentle direction--and in the case of athletes, with a special liking. "I'm not a big sports fan in the sense of sitting down and watching a lot of sports, but I have a lot of respect for athletes and the work they have to do to achieve their goals. I like working with them and portraying them."

Sandro is a NikonNet "Legends Behind the Lens" featured photographer. The current "Legends" story and an archive of profiled photographers, including Sandro, can be found at Sandro's website is at