My job affords me access to amazing places and to people who have stories that seem unthinkable. My role is to make a connection with my subjects in a short window of time. It’s a constant balance of remaining authentic, yet also being aware that I need to create and capture a moment that completes a story. Aside from that, being a photographer is 90% problem solving. Some say it’s about moving furniture, and while not untrue, I’m fairly confident that all the photographer’s I respect are probably amazing problem solvers. Sometimes it’s making the uninteresting transformative. Sometimes it’s a technical problem – cameras or lighting. Sometimes it’s time management. Sometimes it’s therapist.
Back in March, I was assigned a story to work alongside an ESPN video crew in Southern WA. ESPN was filming an outside the lines piece on Steven Elliott, and it was a big deal because it was the first time any of the shooters had spoken about the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident 10 years ago. To be 100% honest, I tend to get a little stressed out when there’s a video crew involved. I feel it can become a real difficult task to come away with photographs that feel thoughtful and intentional. I’ve had instances where it’s successful, but I was apprehensive. I just wanted to deliver quality work for a magazine and company I greatly respect.
After meeting Steven, I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be about me forcing my agenda. This is a man who has been through hell and he’s choosing to tell his story for the betterment of other veterans or enlisted forces that are struggling with PTSD. Steven showed great courage and trust in telling his story. I feel enriched for having heard the way he and his wife have handled all the adversity. Thank you to Steven and to all of my subjects who brave the camera so that stories like this may have life. Thank you to ESPN and to all of my clients who give me opportunities to grow and stretch.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to take a look at the fantastic Outside the Lines piece and the great article written by Mike Fish here.