As you may know, I am currently in the process of doing a multimedia assignment for my final photography project. I am doing the assignment on Brock and Clayton Stadnik, twin brothers on the University of South Carolina football team. I have hit more than a few bumps in the road with the assignment due to NCAA regulations and the Athletic Department’s (over) protection of their athletes. I finally received permission to photograph the Stadnik brothers, with a few restrictions from the Athletic Department and Coach Spurrier. After doing my first shoot with the brothers, I think the assignment is going to turn out really well, but if you had asked me about it a week ago my answer would not have been the same (let’s just say I was freaking out a little, or a lot). This has honestly been a really great learning experience for me so far, and the next time I need to do an assignment like this I won’t make the same mistakes again. Here’s what I’ve learned about photographing high-profile people (so far):
1. Get permission in advance. I’m not talking a week in advance. I’m talking a month in advance. It took me 2 weeks and multiple phone calls and emails to get permission from the athletic department. Those are 2 weeks of my time that I could have spent on the project that instead I was sitting around waiting. In that time, I was able to find a new subject and schedule and initial meeting. I am happy that I will be able to photograph my original story idea, I just wish I had started earlier so that I wouldn’t be behind the rest of my classmates.
2. Don’t wait around; be proactive. If you have a really really great story in mind that you are just dying to do, don’t sit around and wait for permission. Call, email, or go to the office of whoever you are wanting permission from and make sure they know who you are, what you want to do, and why you want to do it. It’s especially helpful if you can talk face-to-face with the person, it’s hard to say no to someone’s face than it is over email.
3. Don’t expect your subjects to know what to do. Just because you are photographing “high profile” subjects doesn’t mean they are going to automatically be comfortable in front of the camera. Brock and Clayton were painfully awkward when I was photographing them and had a tendency to pose or look at the camera. You are going to have to photograph your subject multiple times before they start to feel comfortable, no matter how well known they are or how much “modeling” experience they have.
I’m sure I’ll learn more as the assignment continues and add to the list so that hopefully you all won’t make the same mistakes as me either!