How to photograph retro ’90s magazine action portraiture

Dani K MonteiroSportovní a akční snímky 02 čvc 20245 minuty čtení

Sports and music photographer Dani K Monteiro shares the dos and don’ts of surfing and parkour portraiture

Dani K Monteiro doesn’t miss a beat. With her bold and colourful style, the Nikon Creator evokes beautiful 1990s magazine nostalgia in her action portraiture. She’s photographed for Nike, Adidas and On and been published in Vogue, Popeye and The Financial Times. Recently, she swapped London for Cape Town to join in on the second edition of The Human Prompt, a Nikon exclusive series. Tasked with the prompt, ‘/Capture: everyday athletes, unexpected performances’, Dani shares the moments behind the lens with Nikon magazine.

Nikon Creator Profile Picture for Dani KM
Dani K Monteiro

Sledujte Dani K Monteiro na sociálních sítích.

What’s in my kitbag?
©Jarno Schurgers
Get to know your athletes

“My favourite part of photographing athletes is getting to know them and making them feel comfortable in front of the camera because you’re photographing in their personal space and capturing them potentially being vulnerable,” says Dani. “I want to know what they want to capture, what side they prefer and what specific motion they want to show.”


Know the right angles

“With surfing and parkour, you should avoid photographing their backs and instead capture the front of the model,” she adds. “For parkour, they love it when the athlete is looking down the lens and not doing a funny face – the athletes take it very seriously.”


Close your aperture down

“I shoot with my aperture quite closed,” explains Dani, who used f/22 for the photo below of the parkour athlete. “I like to have everything in focus most of the time. I also love using flash and creating motion and drag with flash. I photograph my ISO as low as possible.” She used the Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlight and the Profoto A2 flash to create a bright and harsh light. 


Left/above: Z6III + NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, 14mm, 1/200 sec, f/22, ISO 100. Right/below: Nikon Z6III + Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR + Mount Adapter FTZII, 28mm, 1/1000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 125 ©Dani K Monteiro
Shoot against the sun 

“I love shooting my subjects against the sun with a bright flash, I think it just looks so shocking, cool and unconventional,” says Dani. “I worked through this movement with the parkour athlete (above), and we found the right location together. The composition is clean, he’s in the perfect spot in the sky, and I like the concrete jungle on the bottom. It’s a good balance.


“I had a fast shutter speed of 1/200. 100 ISO because the sun was shining into the lens which allowed me to close my aperture a lot as I like to have everything in focus. I used the Profoto A2 for flash – I was holding the flash with my feet at one point because I was lying on the ground!”


Top tip: Test out the Z6III’s optimised autofocus in backlit situations to up your creativity. Plus, you’ll be able to see even more with the 5670k dots EVF.


Experiment with candid

“When you’re photographing musicians and athletes, often the most beautiful pictures are the candid ones,” explains Dani. “They are not posing. There’s a moment of tranquillity and solitude. In the photograph above, the surfer was tired and cold, he was waiting for his turn to surf. I thought the texture of the water looked cool and his hands were lightly touching the water and the sun was hitting him. It’s the moment of calm before a crazy stunt. I was standing up, looking through the viewfinder here.”


Use 3D AF to lock onto your subjects

If you’re photographing sports, switch to 3D tracking and your camera will stay effortlessly locked on your subject. “3D auto tracking is something that’s so crucial to sports photography,” Dani reminisces about her first time using the feature. “I genuinely cannot believe this is something I hadn’t explored before,” Dani says. “It’s one less aspect I have to worry about, and knowing I can trust the Z6III with its speed and accuracy is a game changer, allowing me to focus my attention on other details.”

Increase contrast in post-production 

To achieve the nostalgic magazine look in post-production, Dani recommends pushing contrast up as much as possible and bringing down highlights. “Push shadows up slightly to even it out and to keep the punchiness and turn the saturation up to five,” she says. “When photographing, I always have my White Balance set to shade mode and will adjust the temperature if I want it to be warmer or cooler.”

©Jarno Schurgers
The Nikon Z6III in review


What was your first impression of the Nikon Z6III?

“It’s very easy to hold and it’s great for run-and-gun photography and sports photography. It’s just as mighty as the Z9 but it’s smaller!”


Is it good for sports photography?  

“It’s got so many elements that are key to photographing sports such as Pre-Release Capture or 120fps burst speed.”


How did the camera help you bring your vision to life?

As the Nikon Z6III screen flips, I didn’t have to be submerged in water for my surf photoshoot. I could bring the camera to a low angle, which I loved. There was a moment when I was photographing my parkour athlete coming out of a corner and I couldn’t see when he was appearing, but I was able to capture him perfectly with the Pre-Release Capture,which allows the camera to record images even before I fully press the shutter.”


Who would you recommend this camera to?

“It's a great first camera because it’s so powerful. It is a professional camera but not as intimidating as the Z9. I’d also recommend it for professionals who need a second body and need to switch between bodies fast, as the positioning of the buttons is very similar.” 


How can you make the most of this camera?

“Go for angles that you wouldn’t generally go for. Experiment with high angles and then flip the screen and photograph extremely low because you can hold the Nikon Z6III in a different way than you would hold a big, heavy camera.”


Watch Dani’s The Human Prompt: The Creative Athlete & the Z6III episode below.


Episode 2 | Nikon Z6III with Dani K Monteiro

In this episode, we follow commercial sports photographer Dani K Monteiro using the Nikon Z6III for the first time. Taking inspiration from 90s music, surf and skate photography, we get a behind-the-scenes look into Dani's workflow. Keep watching to see how Dani interprets our prompt - /Capture: everyday athletes, unexpected performances.

Možnosti sdílení

Discover the Nikon Z6III

Featured products

More in sports and action

7 minut čtení
CreateYourLight Theme 11 "Urban Sports Photography" asset
Sportovní a akční snímky 06 čvn 2023Little Shao

Capturing urban sport on the streets of Paris with the Nikon Z 50

6 minut čtení
Kathrin Schafbauer's images for Nikon magazine's article 'What I've Learned as Series'
What I’ve learned as10 lis 2023Kathrin Schafbauer

Kathrin Schafbauer on keeping up with cyclists and shooting editorial

5 minuty čtení
Sportovní a akční snímky 10 kvě 2023Aurelie Gonin

Shooting mountain sports with Aurelie Gonin and the lightweight Z 8


Unlock greater creativity