More often than not news photographers are faced with assignments where the shooting situation is not ideal. Sometimes a last minute assignment comes in or the story just isn't that visual. However, you do your best to try and make lemonade out of lemons. Some factors often faced are access to the subject, the lighting in general, or the location, lack of planning and so forth.
My recent assignment, for The New York Times, to make a portrait of a high school football coach Greg Jessee offered a couple of those aforementioned challenges. Originally I was set to meet Mr. Jessee in Norfolk, VA and grab a portrait of him that somehow connected him to academia, communicated he was a coach and also conveyed a more serious tone. I was told that the coach had experienced a malfunction in his defibrillator that caused him to become unconscious on the sidelines of the football field during a game.
Once I called Coach Jessee I was grateful to find that he was willing to meet me on the field where the misfiring of his defibrillator occurred, awesome! Now I just had to beat the rain.
Upon arrival I knew we would only have a few minutes to shoot - rain was imminent. For the most part, the light was flat and lacked any character. I popped off a few frames and as I expected, there wasn't anything too exciting happening in the photographs. 99.9% of the time I shoot using strictly available light but that approach wasn't working this time so I moved on. In the end, I pulled out my strobe and connected it to the camera with an off-camera sync cord, it helped. I shot for about ten minutes and then the rain came.
In the end, I wish Mother Nature had given me more time to get to know the coach and to really work the assignment. I reckon you win some and you lose some.
You can read the article here.