Yesterday morning I’m sitting on the porch reading a book with nothing more planned for the day when my phone rings. It’s Jeremy Henderson, editor of a local Auburn blog called The War Eagle Reader. Jeremy’s brother, Zac Henderson is the regular photo editor of the blog but he had to return to photography school in Savanna, GA a couple of days ago and Jeremy was in desperate need of someone to shoot lifestyle shots of the festivities surrounding the football game between Auburn and Mississippi State. Somehow Jeremy had come across my photography (geotagging can pay off!) and asked if I’m interested in taking some shots for him and his blog. He even offered to pay me $50.00.
At this point I’m thinking, “I don’t know this guy from Adam” and starting to think this could just be some kind of elaborate scam. So, I look up his web site and find that it’s pretty typical for a locally run community blog. I also discover that Jeremy is a well respected died-in-the-wool Auburn nut. I then thought about the fact that my Flickr photos are currently being used in blogs all over the world for free due to my Creative Commons licensing agreement and figured “what the heck!” I never really need an excuse to take pictures anyway.
I grabbed my Pentax K10D, battery grip, 18-55mm “kit” lens and 50mm f/1.7 and headed over to campus around 3:00pm. I spent three hours walking all over campus snapping shots of tailgaters, the Tiger Walk and other “local flavor” before everyone headed to the stadium for the game at 6:00. At that point I returned to the house and spent the next couple of hours scouring through the 200+ shots I had taken. I culled a few then burned the rest to a CD which I dropped off at Jeremy’s house on my way over to Toomer’s Corner to photograph the victory celebration (Auburn won 49-24). War Eagle!
While I have wandered around campus during games before taking snapshots, this was the first time I have ever been “on assignment.” I found it was quite different than just taking the kinds of pictures that usually do. I found myself trying to think of what kinds of photos the blog should have and struggled with finding my own creative point of view. I also found that it’s quite difficult to take good candid photos of people who don’t know you and don’t particularly like someone they don’t know taking pictures of them. It is especially difficult when it’s 5:00pm and those people have been drinking since 10:00am. That being said, there were a few folks who the alcohol had an opposite effect upon. I ended up switching to my trusty old manual focus nifty fifty in the last hour of the pre-game activities and found “my eye” again.
All in all it was a great experience. I had a lot of fun, learned a ton and found myself more than just a little bit humbled. I now have new-found profound respect for professional and freelance news photographers and even amateur “street” photographers. Most of all, I feel that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and grew a bit more as a photographer. I don’t know if Jeremy will be calling me again but if he does I’ll be ready for another lesson.