Portfolio & Information & More

September 2nd, 2009

“You Changed Clothes”

I was once assigned to shoot a cover of TIME, a senator at the Senate building. He had made big news to say the least and TIME had the exclusive. I was all set to go, but what to wear? I got really nervous about it, it was going to be outside on a balcony in summer, so hot. I was really worried too as I knew the white house photographer for TIME was going to shoot behind the scenes and I knew everyone at TIME would see how I was dressed in those images. I went to 3 stores and tried on dress shirts and suits, nothing fit, was wrinkled, I had no iron and would by flying in and out of DC in one day for it and checking more and more items or things to carry was making the budget higher then I knew I could already get away with. Never mind spending all that money on a suit to only wear once on a small budget that already had a loophole in the deal to not be a cover or at least not pay me for one if it didn’t happen.

I remember standing in a Banana Republic® and getting really stressed out over a shirt, it was so silly but nonetheless, there I was.

So I got linen pants and nice new simple black T. Done.

So, not only was I shot by the white house photographer, about 10 film crews from the news channels shot the photo shoot as it was the only time the senator was in public that day. So I think it went on TV, not sure.

Then, back in NYC that night, I got to be in the art directors office during layout for my cover. It was almost midnight and I had changed into nicer black designer jeans and a button down by a fancy designer. It was one of the biggest moments of my career watching like a fly on the wall, really really really great in fact.

As I stood there, staring at what was to be my cover of TIME surrounded by all the big decision makers, the DOP standing next to me was looking through the contact sheets of the white house photographer that shot my shoot.

The DOP looked at me, looked me over, head to toe, and said, “You changed clothes.”

No judgments or comments, just those three words, I had no idea what the DOP had meant.

Later that night, almost 1am or so, the PE called to tell me they switched it, I didn’t get my cover because the senator – not an exact quote but close – “Wasn’t recognizable enough as a person, readers wouldn’t know the face” – they put the president on the cover as they needed a sales boost that week.

I think if I had worn a suit, I would of gotten my cover?

I made two images that day. A large lit formal portrait that was to be the cover and some tight fast close ups in the less then 5 minutes I had total. The lit image wasn’t used and the close up was used double page in TIME.

The close up used was the first image I made. In fact, it had been the clip test (remember those? Lights + E-6 + Hasselblad + 5 minute shoot + 1 Polaroid = bad ass). Well, after having the clip in my pocket, waiting for the balance to be rushed for 2 hours, I realized that was the best shot. I pulled I it out of my pocket, dusted it off, threw it into the selects and then there it was, 2 pages in TIME.

The image that was to be the cover was later used for by the Senator for his memoir, so that almost made up for not getting my cover of TIME before I was 30, but not really.

Be professional to the situation, be true to yourself and be true to your subject, most times, you will get the respect the situation dictates.

Or… Wear Dri-FIT as to not sweat in your eyes in your 5 minutes in a hot conference room to photograph the richest man in the world. (Just be sure you recently bleached your hair to match a girls).