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13 photoshoots in 4 days

Just wrapped on one of the busiest weeks of my 23 years of life. 13 photoshoots, 4 days, 70 hours of work on top of going to school. How did I accomplish this? A strict diet of frozen pizzas and energy drinks. Six months ago today, I would have been sitting on the couch probably playing Xbox and still eating frozen pizzas. The way my life has changed in such a short amount of time is certainly mind boggling, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Working in the editorial industry is no joke. I'm sure many outsiders imagine my job as simply taking pictures and then having copious amounts of free time to play Xbox and eat frozen pizzas. In reality, that scenario couldn't be farther from the truth.

Starting on Monday, I had 3 shoots and had to try to squeeze in class in between one of the shoots. Fortunately, I'm graduating in 15 short days. I'm well ahead of all of my school work so class has definitely been on the back burner this week (actually for the past couple weeks, sorry dad). The end of the day came with a solid 8 hours of shooting and traveling all over Pittsburgh. The joke was on me because when I got home I heated up a frozen pizza and started editing through the hundreds of photos I took previously in the day. I made the selects and began my post-processing. Let me also add that last Friday I shot a 7 page men's fashion feature that will also be featured this month of Whirl. With a mixture of editing Monday's shoots and dabbling in the men's feature, I found myself looking up and finding it to be 2am. Total amount of work for the day? 15 hours, and it was only Monday.

To save you from boredom, I'll skip ahead to Thursday; which I had the most memorable shoot of my career to date. Like Monday, Thursday was another day of balancing multiple shoots and school. My first shoot, the one that I'll cherish forever, was shooting the CEO of a multi-BILLION dollar pharmaceutical company. No amount of Monster Energy could prepare me for that shoot. Forewarning, I'm gonna get real preachy here so you may want to skip ahead.

The call time was 11am. I arrived at work at 10am and met with the art director who would be driving us to the shoot. The previous night I did my research on the company to see just how big they were. To put it into perspective, they are in the top 100 of the Fortune 500. Nothing like psyching yourself out the day before the biggest shoot of your career. We arrived at the headquarters exactly at 11 and met with our contact. This company is so serious that we had to get personalized guest passes with our pictures on them. Another perfect was to make me even more nervous for the shoot. The contact told us that we would have roughly 5-10 minutes with the CEO before she had to be whisked away to probably make some stock-altering decision. I had about 5 minutes to scout a location and set up my gear. Luckily for me, I've become a machine at setting up my gear. To add to the luck, the building we were in was nothing short of an architectural feat. Marble staircases, hundred foot windows, sprawling glass enclosed offices. Awe-inspiring.

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I chose to shoot her (yes she was the most intimidating woman I've ever met) on top of the third floor staircase. This is where knowing your gear inside and out and inside again is such an important aspect of your work. On high-pressure shoots like these, you have NO time to fiddle around with settings and where to place your lights. I knew that shooting at f/2.8, 1/100th, 1/2 power on my strobe through my octabox, while at the minimum mark of my ND filter would yield me a correct exposure. I was right on the mark.

 Raw image of Andrea, a senior Editor at Whir who is writing the story.

Raw image of Andrea, a senior Editor at Whir who is writing the story.

I got to shoot maybe 5 test shots before the CEO came in. Luckily she was very comfortable in front of the camera, and I fired off close to 100 shots before we had to call it quits. Unfortunately I can't share the finished results as the article isn't published yet, but hopefully this post will make you want to go pick up a copy of the April issue of Whirl Magazine (shameless plug). The rest of the day went as planned. A couple more small shoots, about an hour of class, and then home to edit the day's lot of images.

Overall I've shot more in 4 days than most photographers shoot in a couple months. I shot dishes served by some of the most exclusive restaurants in Pittsburgh, wallet-demolishing cocktails, yoga instructors, a holistic dentist, an insanely powerful CEO, and about eight other things I can't remember at the time. Just think, this is my first month on the job.

 

 

-Michael