Brad Smith, the former director of photography at Sports Illustrated, says, “Photo shoot is Latin for “‘problem.’” Problems are relative, of course, but there is something about a photo shoot that seems to generate more than its fair share of hurdles to clear. Overcoming those problems can be one of the most satisfying parts of creating photographs—especially when you’re working with more than 70 of the world’s best athletes at the MLB All-Star Game.
One day I asked myself, “If someone were to give me the complete freedom to shoot anything I wanted with an unlimited budget, what would that be?” This was meant to be an existential question about who I wanted to be in the future as a photographer. The answer changed my life as a photographer and might change yours as well.
Football players are built differently than the rest of us. They’re taller, they’re wider, and some of them weigh as much as three cheerleaders. But what happens when you have to include 19 of these big men in the same frame for a Sports Illustrated magazine shoot?
Soccer star and swimsuit model Alex Morgan kicks ass—on the soccer field and in a swimsuit. Photographing her for Sports Illustrated is much more than an ordinary editorial assignment. Even after producing more than 50 portrait projects for them, every project arrives with both reverence and responsibility.
There are precious few careers that can put you on a major league baseball field one day, in a helicopter the next day, and on a movie set the following day. It’s a true gift to find something to do with your life that sustains your soul and spirit. It’s like finally discovering “the one.” When you find that connection, the depth of the love is undeniable. It weaves itself into your very being and remains there until the day you die.
Life is like a workshop. I’ve never really thought about it that way before, but the value you receive from a photography workshop is often still paying dividends years and years after the workshop has ended—very much the way one’s childhood, education or other experience can only be truly valued with the benefit of hindsight. […]