Though I’ve not updated my blog in some time, I feel as if I may have good reason for not doing so. As I find myself digging deeper and deeper into the core of my passion that is the craft of photography, I also find myself in a constant state of wonder and surreality.
As the fall 2012 semester came to an end, I was lucky enough to be asked by Heinz Kluetmeier of Sports Illustrated to work with him and a few other photographers for a week in Tampa during the first week of Christmas break. We were working for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, taking photographs for ads, marketing, social media sites and program books. I wrapped up the week by driving from Tampa to St. Petersburg and meeting with Steve Johnson at the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl. Steve was kind enough to invite me to come along as a second shooter.
I learned so much during that week. I not only felt myself grow as a photographer, but as a person. One of Heinz’s many mantras regarding photography is that, at its core, it’s about more than just taking pictures of people; it’s about connecting with them. I feel as if I was able to do that, and officially shooting my first football game, finally getting a chance to work with some serious lighting equipment and photographing the circus animals was an unbelievably awesome bonus.
This was around the time when I first thought of the question posed earlier and started looking for an answer. When Heinz asked if I’d be interested in working an internship, there was no second guessing before I agreed to do it. The very same goes with when Steve asked me about the bowl game. A person cannot afford to get caught up in insecurities and self-doubt for too long. Don’t be afraid to say yes and take a leap of faith!
Now, to bring everyone up to speed, I thought I had jumped into the deep end with assignments like the two undertaken during Christmas break, but I feel it was nothing compared to my latest adventure.
It was 4:47 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, when I had just finished washing several dishes used to prepare what would’ve been the evening’s dinner when I saw I had a missed call and voicemail from Steve. After listening to his message, I called him immediately. Most of what Steve said to me has been forgotten as it all happened in a flash, but what gist I do remember went something like this: “Do you have plans tonight? No? Good. Pack your camera gear, you’re driving to Bradenton to shoot the Manti Te’o interview. I’ll send you the address.”
(I feel I should mention that Steve was the one originally slated to take this assignment, but he was out of town. So, he called me.)
My mind was racing as I threw my gear into my bag and printed out the directions Steve sent in a text. At 4:59 p.m. I received a call from Bob Flanagan of ESPN Images and was briefed on what would be happening and what I should do upon my arrival in Bradenton. Te’o's interview was scheduled for 7 p.m., but the crew was doing what it could to stall the talk for at least another 30 minutes.
At 5:00 p.m., only 13 minutes after receiving Steve’s voicemail, I was in my car and headed toward the ramp that would put me on I-75 South.
Two and a half hours after leaving Gainesville, I pulled up to the IMG Academy security gate to explain why I was there. Since the whole situation was so last minute, my name was not on any sort of guest list and I lost the battle of convincing the guard to let me in.
After making a few phone calls, Bob put me in touch with Shawn Fitzgerald, the producer on site. I met up with Shawn around 7:45 p.m. and, to my relief, was told the interview had been pushed back to 8 p.m.; everyone was still awaiting Jeremy Schaap’s arrival.
Jeremy drove up to the gates at IMG at 8:23 p.m. when Shawn and I jumped in to accompany him inside. The three of us walked into a small lobby at the front of the complex where Shawn and I were told to stay while Jeremy went to a small conference room down the hall. Less than 20 minutes later Jeremy returned and said they were ready to begin the interview and for Shawn and me to come in and meet Te’o.