I’m lying if I call it a day. Technically speaking, we were only in the same room for eight minutes and he was only in front of my lens for three. However, this was the third day this year that I thought we might photograph him. It’s all about where you draw the line.
Now most of you probably are probably thinking, “3 minutes? That’s crazy!” – In a sense it is. It’s clearly not enough time to establish a connection with your subject, right? Luckily it’s also not enough time for me to say something to piss Michael Vick off. The reason this shoot was so short is complicated. Even though this was the third go, we still weren’t 100% sure the shoot was going to happen. We knew that Vick was in town, we learned that he was shooting with another magazine (their story isn’t out so I can’t tell you who). We went ahead and booked assistants, gear, and the studio literally next door to his shoot in the hope of grabbing him after the other wrapped. Luckily, the plan worked out.
If you’ve only got three minutes with someone, you better have your shit together. I knew exactly what the magazine needed and exactly what I wanted from the shoot. I also knew to dial my expectations to “simple and classic.” It’s not wise to try accomplishing something complex or far-reaching when you only have a few minutes.
All this talk if time and nothing about our man himself – Michael Vick is a loaded subject in any respect and I wanted to cover that thoroughly. My personal opinion on him is that he has paid for his crimes and is currently (to my knowledge) doing the best he can with his second chance. I am a lover of dogs and a lover of sports. My mother has been a dog groomer my entire life; her groom shop still lives in the house I grew up in. Beyond the five or six dogs that visited our home everyday for grooming, we always had two or three of our own. I grew up around dogs, and loved them. I also grew up playing football. Some of my best memories are from a few years of high school football – to this day, I still have dreams at night about playing.
All of my personal history considered, I wanted to make a portrait that hints at Michael Vick’s criminal past while focusing on his hopefully peaceful intentions for the future. A subject’s history viewed through my own personal biases and history is a lot to capture in three minutes – do you think these shots begin to give this story justice?