Art Streiber on shooting the New York Times Magazine Super Bowl cover story on sports betting

Last month, The New York Times Magazine asked Art Streiber to shoot its two-cover story on America’s obsession with sports betting, which was published yesterday, on Super Bowl Sunday.

“The concept was to illustrate how two normal guys would react to winning or losing their bets on the big game,” says Art, who worked with Kathy Ryan, the magazine’s director of photography, and photo editor Stacey Baker. “The only problem was that there were still four teams in contention, which meant that we’d have to shoot eight variations of Super Bowl winners and losers. Which meant that we’d be asking our models to change jerseys multiple times and act out their joy (or pain) multiple times as well.

“Movie money was thrown into the air above the ‘winner’ on EVERY take,” he continues, “and when our prop stylist, Anthony Altomare, and his assistant ran out of movie cash, we had to pick it all up! But after the fifth or sixth time, we came up with an ingenious and efficient way of going about it.”

Art’s team built a dam out of foamcore to block the front of the set. “Anthony started at the back of the set and used a mini leaf blower to blow all of the cash toward the dam,” says Art. “Four crew members were kneeling behind the dam, and they would reach over and scoop up the cash so we could start all over again.”

Meanwhile, Art needed to direct the two models, John Nelson and Chris Holan, so he could get the necessary facial expressions. “I talked to both of them about displaying incredible jubilation (‘You’ve just won the lottery!!!!’) and remarkable despair (‘Your girlfriend just broke up with you…’). On the joy side, I didn’t want to hit ‘hysteria’ and on the despair side, I explained that it wasn’t about physical pain but, rather, epic disappointment.

“Interestingly,” Art continues, “there were two warm-cool jersey match-ups, one warm-warm jersey matchup, and one cool-cool jersey matchup, between New England and Seattle, in which the jerseys looked very similar. Anthony had brought home and away jerseys for both teams, so we were able to shoot the away (white) jersey for Seattle and oppose it against the Patriots’ blue jersey.”

A full eight hours later, he had produced enough frames for The New York Times Magazine to make a GIF comprising 50 different shots. “It really shows the nonstop ups and downs of our day in the studio,” says Art. View the GIF at The 6th Floor, the magazine’s blog.

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Photo by Art Streiber for The New York Times Magazine, February 2, 2014.

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Photo by Art Streiber for The New York Times Magazine.

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