Portraits make Minnesota rugby guys look even tougher

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When photographer Robb Long decided to create a series of gritty sports portraits, he turned to the toughest athletes he’d ever seen — players for the Boksprings Rugby Football Club in Faribault.

One day in May, Long set up a makeshift studio on the sidelines of a rugby game. He had makeup artists make the tough guys look even tougher. And then he snapped away. Long ended up with portraits that capture rugby in all its glory — blood, sweat, mud and missing teeth.

You can browse the full series in large-size format on Long’s web site.

Long produced the images as a personal art project to build his portfolio. He lives in Minnesota, but his business, Robb Long Imaging, is based in New York City.

Long said he first encountered the Faribault rugby team about five years ago while shooting an assignment.

“It struck me as fascinating to watch these guy basically go out and beat themselves to death,” Long said.

He explains the photo shoot in a recent blog post.

When they were done playing they came to my makeshift studio – sweaty, bloody, dirty and – best of all – their facial expressions and eyes really held what they were carrying with them during combat just a few moments before I clicked the shutter.

It’s amazing what happens to a photographer when in a room with these players. I found that I too became more aggressive with them to incite in them the emotion I knew was characteristic of the game … and it worked!

A video shows some the behind-the-scenes action at the photo shoot.

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