2016 was another eventful year, filled with challenges and joys alike and as we reflect upon the year just gone by, we feature our top 10 favorite cheerleader photos from the past year.
10. Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader Sativa-Skye at the 2016 P.R.O. Convention
I’ve known Sativa-Skye since 2014, when I first saw her at that year’s Ladies of Ontario Fury auditions. She made a lasting first impression and I knew then that there would be big things in store for her. She was what I called a next level performer…a future major league cheerleader. And two years later when the Rams returned to Los Angeles, she would make the first team of the reconstituted Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders, an all star group of former cheerleaders from the NFL, NBA, semi pro teams, UCLA and USC.
One of my favorite events to shoot is the annual P-R-O Convention in Atlanta, the greatest meeting of professional cheerleaders in the world. And when I saw Sativa-Skye there representing the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders, I was very pleasantly surprised. So when there was a lull in the action, I took advantage and snapped a few photographs of her and this photo was one of my favorite of the year.
9. Suns Dancer Maddie at the 2016 Phoenix Suns Dancers Auditions
I’ve been covering the Phoenix Suns Dancers auditions for several years and its always a special event to cover. The venue is always a challenge to shoot because it’s usually quite dark, but that gives you a nice black background that dramatically isolates the subject. The girls are absolutely gorgeous and there’s always someone who stands out and gives me some wonderfully expressive shots. And it’s a fun road trip from my home base in Los Angeles.
This photo of Suns Dancer Maddie is one of my favorite photos because she is as beautiful as they come and the simplicity of the photo captures the moment of the auditions quite nicely without being to “impressionistic” as a lot of photographers try to do at these events. I prefer a more realistic element in my audition photos as you will see later in this countdown.
8. San Diego Chargers Girl Rebecca
Rebecca has been one of my favorite Charger Girls to photograph ever since she made the squad two years ago. She’s got a fresh face and cute smile that makes for a very captivating photograph. Rebecca is one of the most photogenic girls on the squad and she looks hot in the Charger Girl uniform…don’t they all. And as odd as this sounds, this year she got a new, wavy hairdo that really accentuates her beauty and makes her stand out in a big way. Hey…big, sexy hair is important and a great hairdo can transform a pretty girl into a hot, sexy sideline vixen.
And it doesn’t hurt that she resembles super hot actress Emilia Clark, the Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. So for you Thrones fans, here’s another super hot pic of Charger Girl Rebecca.
7. San Antonio Spurs Dancer Erika at the P.R.O. Convention
The annual P-R-O Convention in Atlanta is perhaps my favorite event to photograph of the year. It’s a fun event to shoot and I get to photograph over 250 of the hottest professional cheerleaders from the NFL, NBA and a host of minor league teams, but it is not without out its challenges. It’s held in a hotel ballroom, which means the light is bad and it’s packed with cheerleaders and dancers literally from wall to wall, which make it difficult to get a clean shot of the girls without a stray arm or leg getting in the way.
But I love this event because I get some quality time to shoot the girls in a one on one setting where they do some typical glamour poses. You can get some really special images if you get a girl who is photogenic and knows how to work her poses.
And that’s what I got with Erika. She’s quite striking and more importantly, she’s very photogenic. Not all beautiful women are…I know, that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s true. Fortunately, Erika not only looked good in front of the camera, she was able to hit all the poses like a professional model…and you would be surprised at how many of these cheerleaders are inexperienced at posing.
And the funny thing about this shoot was that I was asking her to give me these sexy, sultry looks and she sizzled in that respect, but as soon as we moved on from one pose to the next, she was as shy and innocent as they come. Ironic. Erika was nice and sweet, but could turn on the sizzle in an instant. Simply amazing…a natural model and one heck of a hip hop dancer.
See Erika’s 2016 P.R.O. Convention All Star feature here.
6. Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader Justene
I have been covering the Rams Cheerleaders for a few years now, dating back to 2012 when UltimateCheerleaders.com was the only media outlet to cover their final auditions in St. Louis. We have a pretty good relationship with their director Keely Fimbres-Bledsoe, so I thought there was a good chance we could get credentialed to shoot a game. I had hoped to photograph the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders in all their glory on a nice sunny, Southern California day. But alas, that was not to be. We were credential alright, but that sunny Southern California day never materialized as it was overcast and rainy. You see, we have been having a rather rainy winter here in Los Angeles. The precipitation is much needed for a region suffering from five years of drought, but it was somewhat of a disappointment for me.
But when you are given a bunch of lemons…you make the best out of a bad situation and make some lemonade and that’s what I did. Even though I didn’t get the nice sunshine that would have made for some bright and shiny cheerleader photographs, I got some light rain that actually made for some interesting and compelling photographs. The Rams Cheerleaders were game and didn’t let a little rain get them down. In fact, they were in high spirits, enjoying the circumstances and their joyfulness also made for some interesting photo ops. So, the rain was kind of a blessing in a disguise.
And one of the images that I got was this lovely photo of Justene dancing in the rain. I like the shot because it’s kind of moody with the rain drops, but Justene’s expression makes this image special and so evocative of the unique circumstances of the day.
I hope to shoot the Rams Cheerleaders again next year, but this time, I hope the rain stays away. I still want to get that nice bright, sunny photograph of the girls in all of their Angela King designed glory.
And here’s a link to my rain filled game day report from that Sunday.
5. Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader Michelle at their 2016 Final Auditions
The Rams Cheerleaders Final Auditions is one of my favorite events to shoot because it’s a pageant style audition, meaning that there are three phases: an interview portion, a swimsuit (e.g. bikini) portion, and a dance portion. Each phase offers some great photo ops and the venue, the venerable old Fabulous Forum, provided a nice dark backdrop that isolated the subject quite nicely. I got several rather striking images of the most beautiful dancers in Southern California.
One of my favorite photographs from that evening was that of Michelle. whose expression of joy and the frozen movement of her hair captures the essence of the dance portion of the auditions. That whole evening was special and so was Michelle.
4. Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Blair at the 2016 P.R.O. Convention
Here’s another one of my favorite photos from the 2016 P-R-O Convention in Atlanta. It’s a photo of Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Blair, who happens to be one of the most beautiful cheerleaders in the NFL and one of the most photogenic. She’s been one of my favorite cheerleaders to photograph at P-R-O since I first saw here a few years ago and that’s why I keep coming back…to be able to photograph the most beautiful and talented cheerleaders in all of professional sports.
3. A Finalist at the 2016 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders Auditions
The Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders auditions is another one of my favorite events to shoot, particularly when they hold their auditions at UOP Stadium. It was a challenge this year to cover the event because they did not let us use a flash for the performances and it was very dark on the first day, when they held auditions deep in the confines of the stadium. Lighting was sparse to say the least and I had to use a very high ISO to get an acceptable shutter speed, but I was able to get some keepers with my ancient Canon 1DmkIV.
The photo above is my favorite image from that weekend…there are some other images taken on Sunday from the upper deck of the stadium that are almost as special, but this one is my favorite because it demanded the most of my abilities due to the poor lighting conditions and the fact that I was able to get such a wonderful shot of a beautiful cheerleader hopeful.
2. A Finalist at the 2016 Los Angeles Rams Cheerleader Final Auditions
Did I mention that the 2016 Ram Cheerleaders Final Auditions are one of my favorite events of the year to shoot? It’s because I get to photograph an amazing group of cheerleaders in an amazing setting and my favorite photo from that event is a photo of a blonde finalist, pictured above. I just love her smile and how her blonde hair conveys a sense of motion, a twisting motion. And I love the light blue color of her outfit and how it contrasts nicely with black background. It’s just a photo that I connect with and remember as one that is representative of the girls trying out at the auditions on that night.
1. San Diego Charger Girl Shelbi Buchholz
One of my favorite Charger Girls to photograph is a four year veteran named Shelbi Buccholz and she garners our most favorite photo for a second consecutive year.
Strikingly beautiful and wonderfully photogenic, Shelbi simply captivates your attention. This is what I said of her last year:
Shelbi is one of my favorite Charger Girls to photograph because she has this wonderful joie de vivre while she dances along the sidelines. I describe her as fun, sexy, flirty, joyful, exuberant, and playful. She has this wonderfully vampish look at times and sometimes she has this wonderful girl next door look…and I don’t know which look I like better (okay…its Shelbi as the vamp). Regardless, she always is pleasure to photograph because she rarely takes a bad or uninteresting photograph. And it doesn’t hurt that she is remarkably good looking with her blonde locks and piercing blue eyes
Vamp. Temptress. Girl next door. All American girl. Shelbi is all of these and more. And for this, she makes the top of our list of favorite photographs of the year.
She is a rare cheerleader indeed and a joy to photograph.
And here’s another photograph of her that kind of represents what I like about her. Just a simple little photograph, but one that is so special.