The Army versus Navy college football game has been taking place since 1890 and annually since 1930. Photographer James Quantz Jr. was given the opportunity to capture Navy’s specialty uniform as part of its 175-year celebration of the Naval Academy’s tradition.
Army and Navy have faced each other 120 times since 1980, with the series led by Navy with 61 victories to Army’s 52. There have been seven ties. Steeped in history and significance – the game is seen as an embodiment of the interservice rivalry of the United States Armed Forces – each school with the help of their uniform providers has started to create one-time “specialty uniforms” just for this game.
The latest in the series is scheduled for December 12, 2020 where Army is currently favored.
“Along with the uniforms, there is usually a pretty substantial ‘release’ involved with the unveiling of their designs,” Quantz tells PetaPixel. “Being in the sports photography world, I’ve seen these releases from afar over the past few years and obviously thought it would be amazing to be involved.”
Quantz was therefore excited when he was contacted in October by the creative department at the Naval Academy about the upcoming photo project.
“Fortunately I had worked with their creative director a couple of years ago when she was with the Florida Panthers of the NHL,” he says. “There’s a lesson there about always doing your best work because you never know where it will take you – in this case the cold Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland!”
“Like most places dealing with the Coronavirus, their budgets have been slashed so the initial contact was more about possibly consulting for their shoot. Over the course of several conversations, I could feel this had the potential to be something pretty special since there was really nothing holding back the creative direction,” Quants says.
“Most of the shoots I’m on involve pro or college athletes and we are restricted by what we can do and even more so in this current health situation we are in. Instead, we would be working with a couple of graduates from the team and these are Navy guys so they were up for anything! So I was sold and found myself in a rainy Annapolis in early November.”
The weather conditions for the shoot were anything but ideal.
“As you can see in the video, we photographed these images in a driving rainstorm on the beach of the Severn River which is located right next to the Naval Academy,” Quants explains. “I used three Profoto B1’s for lighting and to protect them as best we could we used ziplock bags and gaff tape. I also had a couple of guys holding two of the stands and my third light was on a mobile handheld stand. The camera I used was the new Canon EOS R5 with the 24-70 2.8 lens which is all-weather sealed, thank goodness.”
“I also started the shoot with several lens wipes to do my best to keep it dry but eventually gave in to the elements and just used the water on the front of the lens as ‘additional creative elements,’” Quants says, laughing.
Fittingly, this year’s theme for the Navy uniform was water, and the custom pattern on the helmet and shoulders is called “Ocean Camo” by the Under Armour design team.
“That design also draws inspiration from the marble stone patterns of white veins on the navy stone found in several landmark buildings around The Yard,” Quants elaborates.
“As you can see this was a project that was just amazing to work on!”
Image credits: Photos by James Quantz Jr. for the Naval Academy and used with permission.