One of my earliest experiences getting paid as a photographer was shooting for the University of Idaho student newspaper, the Argonaut. When I started working for the paper, I was still shooting film and went through the digital transition while I was there. It was an interesting time to be working for a newspaper.
I learned a lot working for the Argonaut. When handed an assignment to photograph a student government meeting in a poorly lit room in the basement of a 100 year old building, you have to get creative. I shot everything from meetings to protests to basketball games and more. This job taught me how to find a way to create a compelling image regardless of the subject and lighting. I'm still awestruck by talented photojournalists who are able to create brilliant images out of nothing.
My early education as a photojournalist still plays a large role in how I shoot today. Even when the budgets are bigger and the shoots are produced on a higher level for advertising, I still shoot with a photojournalistic approach. This approach paid off on a recent shoot for Under Armour. I was asked to shoot alongside a film crew and would not have many of the normal lighting resources that I often rely on for commercial assignments. For most of this 2 day project I would literally be shoulder to shoulder with the DP. My directive was to get the shots, but do my best to not interfere with the TV production.
Over the course of 2 days I shadowed the flim crew shooting with mostly existing light while utilizing their light sources whenever possible. There were numerous occasions when my assistant and I could grab the talent and get our own shots elsewhere with a little more time for experimentation. This project required my assistant and I to be nimble and efficient. We needed to stay out of the film crews way, but still needed to be aggressive enough to get the shots the client needed. It was a delicate balance at times, but in the end resulted in some incredible photographs.
As much as I love shooting in controlled environments, I get an even bigger thrill when shooting in situations where controlled chaos can happen. I think the uncertainty of shooting photographs and not knowing the exact outcome is what originally got me hooked on photography. There is still room for that bit of unexpected magic. This is the place where surprises happen and images that might normally be missed have the opportunity to see the light of day.