As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, Arizona State University is my longest standing client, more specifically the football program. It is where I found my passion for photographing athletes and it is also where I developed a confidence for doing so. They are a client I never deserved, never earned, and one I am eternally grateful to have. This is why it was heartbreaking weighing the decision not to shoot their campaign this year.
As much as I want to say I am able to separate this job from my emotions, I can’t. Many of the clients that I have worked for, I now consider close friends. I celebrate successes of agencies I work with like I celebrate my sports teams winning. On multiple occasions I have sat down with an agency, that I was bidding for, to ask if I was really the best photographer for their campaign. The motivation was not because of the budget, but because I genuinely want to see them get the best person for their job, even if I am not that person. Which brings me to the ASU football campaign…
One lunch changed everything… I had gone into said lunch with their creative team to kindly excuse myself from shooting this year’s campaign. There were many factors that I had given consideration to, the main one being that my schedule wasn’t letting me give enough time to them in planning the images, the lighting or the campaign. Along with that, I was also not content to shoot the same type of campaign that I had done for them since I was a teenager. I wanted to give them an ad campaign that other universities would look at and be jealous of… especially U of A (for those of my readers outside of the US, this is ASU’s rival school).
Over a two hour long lunch it was decided that they could work around my schedule and were willing to take the campaign in a new direction. More action, more moments to put the fans on the field, more to inspire them. I wanted ASU fans to look at the photos and be proud that they were their’s, that it was their school, their team and their success. By the end of the lunch, I knew that a new direction had been found. It was also apparent that the trust that existed many years ago, when this teenage kid shot their campaign, was still there.
A message for future photographers:
Realize it or not, this job is a sport. When you shoot a campaign, you are playing for that team. Victory is never earned by the photographer alone, but rests on his shoulders a great deal. Put your heart into your work, into your bids, and be willing to be hurt if you lose. NEVER let money determine your commitment to a campaign. Work your ass off on set and be wiped out when you get home. Waking up the next day sore from a good shoot will always be better than waking up rested knowing that you could have given more.