Trevor Lawrence, a Fog Machine and ‘That One Shot That Isn't in That Library'

From assisting shoots to leading them, Kohjiro Kinno shares why he loves photography.
Author:
Publish date:

Full Frame is Sports Illustrated's exclusive newsletter for subscribers. Coming to your inbox weekly, it highlights the stories and personalities behind some of SI's photography.

To get the best of SI in your inbox every weekday, sign up here. To see even more from SI's photographers, follow @sifullframe on Instagram. If you missed last week’s edition on Tiger Woods's 2019 Masters win, you can find it here.

trevor-lawrence-cover

Before shooting Tiger Woods’s iconic 2019 Masters win or Sports Illustrated’s latest cover of NFL quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence, Kohjiro Kinno assisted photographer Robert Beck. For about 10 years after leaving school, Kinno worked with Beck, carried gear, made sure all the equipment worked, built studios in unconventional settings, and more. They covered everything from local sporting events to the Olympics.

“It was probably one of the best decisions I made,” he says in an episode of Sports Illustrated’s Full Frame video series.

After making sure everything was set up “to help out the photographer get his final vision,” Kinno got to sit back and watch Beck work. That’s where Kinno says he picked up many of the intricacies that have helped him throughout his own career,


“What I learned from assisting is you just have to get the shot that your client or your company, whoever is hiring you, that they requested,” Kinno says. “Sports Illustrated, you know, they're not looking for the everyday coverage. They're looking for something more unique.”

trevor-lawrence-behind-the-scenes

So, when it came to photographing the consensus top player in this year's NFL draft, how does a set consisting of a backdrop and a chair turn into images worthy of a Sports Illustrated cover?

“My biggest step is to really study the history of photography, even if you're just focusing on sports. You should look into fine art, portraiture, landscapes. There's just an endless amount of photographers that you can learn from. A lot of these photographers, and myself included, we've seen tons of work over the years, just millions of images right here. So you kind of think, like in your head, the library, that you have all these images that you’ve seen and you try to find that one shot that isn't in that library,” he says.

trevor-lawrence-spotlight

Lights frame Lawrence in a sort of spotlight, much like the one he faces as he becomes the likely top pick in the upcoming NFL draft. A fog machine is pulled out. A single prop is used: a football.

The result is something that looks less like a prototypical sports photograph and more like an illustration of a young person on the cusp of embarking on a major journey.

“That's what I love about photography,” Kinno says. “There's no rules to what makes a good picture. Even if someone doesn't like it but you like it, screw them. It doesn't matter.”

Full Frame is Sports Illustrated's exclusive newsletter for subscribers. Coming to your inbox weekly, it highlights the stories and personalities behind some of SI's photography.

To get the best of SI in your inbox every weekday, sign up here. To see even more from SI's photographers, follow @sifullframe on Instagram. If you missed last week’s edition on Tiger Woods's 2019 Masters win, you can find it here.

Member Exclusive

Get Access to Our Exclusive Content