This month, I was thrilled to have one of my images grace the cover of Professional Photographer Magazine. The lucky image was “School Spirit” – a senior portrait I created a few years ago that made it all the way to the PPA Loan Collection. As if the cover wasn’t exciting enough, they also did a great story on how I approach senior photography – and all portraits for that matter. It was a seven page article with a bunch of my favorite senior portraits featured. I’ve been fortunate enough to win my fair share of awards over the years, but having a cover story was definitely a new high!
I never realized just how stressful it is to be interviewed for an article like this – especially one that you know will be read by all your peers. You worry that you will say something wrong or come off sounding like a knucklehead. Fortunately, the story was done by the incredibly talented Stephanie Boozer. We had a great talk and I felt like she really understood what I was trying to say. It was a huge relief. We spoke for a few hours and I was wondering how she would ever compress all that info into one article- but she managed to assemble the most important parts into a great piece. I couldn’t be happier with the entire process!
Of course, the whole thing would have never happened if it weren’t for that great senior session with Dayton Blankenship. There is actually a funny story about how this image happened. Here’s the backstory:
A few years ago, when I did my 40@Forty Project, the first week’s portrait was going to be a shot based on the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials. I dressed up in an Apple T-shirt for some shots, then switched to a suit – planning to combine them in Photoshop later. Here is what the final image was going to look like.
However, as I was taking off the suit- with the T-shirt still on underneath- I realized it looked like Superman. I went back and reshot the portrait with me ripping open my shirt. The final image ended up being one of the most popular shots from the entire series and set the bar really high for the rest of the project.
Fast forward a few years and I’m photographing Dayton for senior portraits. Dayton is my Godson, so I’ve known him his whole life. He had been following along with my 4040 Project and was familiar with all the images. At the end of the session, he said he thought it would be fun to recreate my Mac image from the 4040 Project. I thought it would be a great way to show off the green “W”. He had earned his letter, but didn’t have a jacket to display it – so taping it to the front of his T-shirt worked out great.
We took several images and I knew we were on to something great. The funny thing is, I learned afterwards that it was a big misunderstanding. The shot he wanted to recreate was the first image – the “I’m a Mac” one – not the Superman image. So the shot was really just a happy accident. For the record, I like my idea better!