Behind the Scenes: Navy 2021 football Uniform Photoshoot on an Aircraft Carrier A chalenging shoot at sea

Our colleague professional sports photographer James Quantz Jr. recently was part of what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime Marine-inspired football uniform photoshoot onboard an operating U.S. Aircraft Carrier.

The mammoth of the Sea

For those who are not familiar, the U.S. Aircraft Carrier George H.W. Bush (Also known as CVN 77) which Quantz Jr. was lucky enough to shoot onboard was until a few years ago the world’s largest warship measuring 1,092 feet (333 m) long with a displacement of over 100,000 tons.

This mammoth of a ship is a 6 billion dollar floating city with a crew of over 5000 active personnel that can stay at sea for up to 3 months at a time powered by twin nuclear reactors.

The ship has anything from a postal office to a gift shop and kitchens that serve over 15,000 meals per day and it is one of the most complex machines ever built made out of more than 1 billion parts.

Uniform Photoshoot on the USS George H.W. Bush

A photoshoot on an operational aircraft carrier is not a simple thing. It requires complex planning clearances months in advance and strict supervision (after all the shoot can not interfere with normal operations on the ship).

One factor which is impossible to control is the weather and at sea this can be brutal with high winds and pouring rain, not to mention rolling waves that can throw you off your feet.

Quantz Jr. explains in his BTS video above that this was his 3’rd shoot with the Naval Academy in Annapolis this year but by far the most demanding. He along with a larger crew of video shooters came onto the USS George H.W. Bush and spent 3 full days on the ship.

Since he needed to shoot stills at the same time as the video crew shot videos he could not use strobes and was basically forced to work with available light. Oner the bright side, shooting at sunrise in the middle of the Atlantic ocean on a huge flight deck of a Carrier with steam (used to catapult the F18 fighters into the sky) coming out of the deck makes for a fantastic shooting opportunity.

For the shoot, Quantz Jr. used a pair of Canon R5 bodies however something strange happened to them on board the ship, and on several occasions, they just stopped working with no explanation. Since this happened to both cameras at the same time and both functioned before and after it seems to be some high-power electrical interference from the ship itself.

Luckily this EM interference was not constant and Quantz Jr. was able to take the shots that he needed but this certainly added to his stress levels on this shoot.

After the aircraft carrier part of the shoot was done, Quantz Jr. and the video crew were flown to land to continue shooting the uniform in a naval air station. They created a studio-like set up in one of the huge F18 hangars and shot the uniforms, planes, and some navy pilots.

You can find some more of the images and info on the U.S. Navy website.

US Navy / Quantz Jr. football uniform on board the USS George H.W. Bush

US Navy / Quantz Jr. football uniform on board the USS George H.W. Bush

Not the first time

As mentioned, this is by far not the first time that Quantz Jr. has been working with the Naval Academy. Earlier this year he did a full shoot of Marine-inspired football uniforms and posted a BTS of the two days shoot which we covered here as well.

Last year we posted his video looking at some of the behind-the-scenes work he did for the American sports equipment company Under Armour and the Army-Navy football uniform which at the time was made to celebrate the Naval Academy’s 175 historic landmark.

For more on sports photography please check out our special sports photography subsection here on LensVid. As always, you can find many more behind-the-scenes videos on the BTS section here on LensVid as well as more BTS videos by Quantz Jr..

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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