Art Director: Jason Lancaster

Director of Photography: Catriona Ni Aolain

Photographer: Aaron Fallon

Heidi: How many selects did you send in?

Aaron: From the main setup (the one pictured) I sent in about 50 images. I divided that 50 up into first and second selects. The second setup (not pictured) I had 25 total selects.

How much time did get to do the shoot?

I was told I would have Matt for 10-15 minutes.  In the end, I wound up having Matt for 25 minutes.

Was this your first shoot for ESPN? How did they find out about you? Email, promo, or word of mouth?

This was my second job for ESPN. The first was at the beginning of the year, I did a portrait for the Body Shots section of the magazine. I wish I knew how they found me. I’ve been sending promos, both print and e promos for the last year. Maybe that, maybe word of mouth…

Was it hard to photograph? meaning he was a little stiff in the beginning? Do you do any warm up shots to try and open him up or was he easy?

You’re right, the first images, often times, can be a bit stiff. But given that I was only supposed to have him for 15 minutes, the idea of a warm up shot isn’t something that consciously crossed my mind. However, on this shoot, I did a bit of warm up anyways without really thinking about it. I had asked Matt to put on his batting gloves and as he was putting the gloves on— not even in the exact area where we had positioned the lights—I grabbed the camera and began shooting. Sunlight was mixing in with my lights, the frame was a bit different than where I had tested, yet those first shots are some of my favorites from this shoot. It was almost reportage-like, with a full on lighting setup. I began giving him bits of direction and that’s how we started. He was really comfortable in front of the camera, so that made things flow pretty smoothly.

Some Logistics

I like to visualize and plan out an approach to my shoots ahead of time, whenever possible. But I’ve learned not to get too attached to those ideas in my head — as often times things don’t work out as planned, or the shoot itself creates better opportunities than what I had visualized.

On this shoot, though everything was seemingly in place beforehand (great direction from ESPN, I had spoken with Matt’s people, and had spoken with the stadium where we were shooting) — one thing that was unexpected was that the grounds crew at the stadium would not let us be on the field. I had asked Media Relations at the stadium about being on the field ahead of time and was told it would be fine, but just to respect the requests of the grounds crew. Apparently the grounds crew had a different take. They told us that we couldn’t be on the grass until we were shooting with talent (not even touching the grass with our feet or equipment), which made it about impossible to set up a shot on the field ahead of time. It didn’t make sense to spend time, effort, or risk any animosity with the grounds crew trying to override them, so instead we worked within their framework and stayed on the warning track area. And that worked out great as the main setup was at the dugout and when we got to the second setup the home team was already on the field taking batting practice.

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  1. I’m null only because I’ll get flack, but how can this be considered a successful photo? Competent photographers would cringe to submit something muddy and generic like this. He blew it.

    • I think the muddiness is the scan and not the image.

    • I think it probably looked better in print.

    • it’s almost as if you’ve never shot for a magazine before…

      • Dito, The image in print is traditional fare for ESPN.

    • The image isn’t great, but it’s not really bad either. I’m sure it looked a lot better in print. But, who among hasn’t had a good shoot, only to have the editor choose something that we don’t think is the best image?

      I won’t be so judgmental since I haven’t seen the rest of the take.

  2. Thanks for the Q&A with the photographer Heidi. Heck I even like the photo and the page layout. Perhaps I’m starting to get the whole point of this series.

  3. I think she’s using this as a way to flog her talent. This is a mediocre photo at best and a Q&A about a run of the mill shoot. 15-25 min is standard in these kind of things…this entry was a misfire.

    • nice photo and run of the mill shoot. that’s right. why act like such a douche.

      • Why be so sensitive to negative comments? People are going to say what they think, and they aren’t going to agree with you. Just because someone doesn’t think a photo is great, doesn’t mean they are being a douche. Get over it, this is the internet.

        • because the comments are unfair and shitty. Now that I don’t shoot stills anymore and am at arms length from the industry, I really see that there are more cunts and douchebag photographers and aspiring photographers than in almost any filed I’ve encountered. Worse than within ad agencies. Its like photographers are these walking wounded egos that have to tear down almost everything that is put before them in order to salve their insecurity.

    • Wow. So many bad vibes from “null” and “anon” – folks who wish not to identify themselves. Hmmm, wonder why…
      I, for one, am glad to hear stories from the front lines. As an corporate/annual report photographer, I am in situations all the time where I have limited control over what happens and where I can shoot. Coming away from a challenging situation with a good shot is the real measure of success.
      Perhaps we all need to remind ourselves that there’s a huge difference between a spec portfolio shoot and a real shoot in a real place with real people.

  4. What’s the deal with all this negativity towards every post in this series? If you can do it better then go out and do it instead of criticizing the photogs getting work.

  5. Great post. This is my favorite of the series so far. Kudos to Fallon for keeping his cool and getting a good shot even when things didn’t go as planned.

  6. This series got a whole lot better with the addition of Q&A and commentary. Thanks for listening to readers’ feedback!

  7. I love this series, and look forward to it every morning. I agree that the Q&A adds a great deal to the images. This one provides a great reminder about planning vs. the unexpected.

  8. I shoot daily under circumstances where I have little control over the setting and or the amount of time allotted so I appreciate what Aaron Fallon had to contend with. It’s also a pleasure to read about assignments, and see the results, when there isn’t a mega-budget with an army of assistants, producers and sets.

    Whether I like the photo or not, or whether it is what I would have done, is not relevant. It’s too easy to armchair photoedit/art direct afterwards.

    • Daniel: Your last point is well said.

  9. Eh it shouldn’t be negative to expect a professional photography website to use better examples. But Rob’s gotta flog his website customers’ work first, it’s a living.

    • “Better” as in not a genuine real life, actually published and paid for, pro photog, bread and butter portrait assignment?


    • This website does use many examples of good photography. Where have you been? Rob can sometimes be nasty, but when I read a stupid comment like yours about his supposed need to flog his website customers’ work it is easy to understand why.

    • and you make your living doing what exactly? I’ll bet you don’t do it with photography.

  10. Thanks for the Q&A – I find that kind of thing very constructive.

    I happen to think it’s a nice, quiet portrait.


  11. How many photographers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


    One to screw it in (do the hard work)

    And nine to stand around doing nothing except loudly proclaiming “I wouldn’t have done it that way.”


    I guess being anonymous is part and parcel of criticizing the art directors and editors of ESPN for not doing their job well (in the mind of those who do more of the work of the nine than the work of the one.)

    Petty. Simply petty.

  12. Thanks Heidi I’m enjoying the series!

  13. A Photo Editor – It’s not like you work in the field either, lol. Your business is selling marketing services, is it not?

    I don’t have anything against ESPN or the photographer. Except it’s ordinary work that probably won’t get them called back.

    • How would you know anything about getting called back?

      • Ha ha ha ha!!!!!

      • LOL, I don’t know who 0 is but it seems as lens envy is in play.

    • When’s the first time you came here? Was it when Rob was an anonymous photo editor blogging while being the editor for a major monthly magazine with national syndication? Because I don’t think it was.

  14. The kind of negativity I see above could ONLY come from people that are not professional photographers. Anyone who knows how hard it is to make a living shooting photos, would NEVER say those types of things. In my experience, it’s the people that don’t have the guts / willpower / talent to become a working professional- they are the ones who take all of their personal frustrations out on other people. Aaron’s photo is great and that’s why he’s shooting for ESPN Mag and you aren’t.

  15. Quote “When’s the first time you came here? Was it when Rob was an anonymous photo editor blogging while being the editor for a major monthly magazine with national syndication? Because I don’t think it was.” End Quote

    Yeah the blog was a lot better then too. This is just filler pap.

    • I think “Null” has just crossed over into troll-dom. Null the troll.

      • Even I , the Great Anon, have to agree. Null, cool it dude. you give the rest of us anon pussies a bad name. ;)
        For the record, I posted as Anon because this is an industry site and you must watch what you post if you’re in this field. I’ve posted my name dozens of times here. But lets be honest, Rob’s blog does have influence. And it’s bad business to use your name when making a negative comment. Period.
        I’ll await my APE slap now… New term: APE slapped. v. a personal smackdown by Rob or someone who publishes the blog. uses: “Yo, damn son. Andrew Hetherinton just APE slapped you on his blog!”

    • Wanker.

  16. I’m thinking about the direction this comment-discussion is taking; it’s becoming more about the “quality” of the decision-making in picking pieces to show in this blog and less about the pieces themselves. Is the point to have this feature be like the CA Photography Annual – full of nothing but the very best work? Or is it to be a provocative selection of pieces designed to spur discussion? I can’t get inside Rob’s head, but I hope it’s the second. That would make this feature have lasting value.

    The Q&A on the Fallon piece addressed an issue we all (…at least all of us WORKING photographers…) wrestle with every day. How do you take your best laid plans and turn them into an exercise in survival? Now THAT’s worth talking about.

    • Like

  17. Stay classy, internet.

    Thanks for the posts Rob. And thanks, I guess, for stepping in and slugging it out a little with the anonymous idiots. I say “I guess” because I’m sorry you have to waste your time doing it and I don’t think it will have much net effect. I’m thinking closing comments might not be far off :/

    All the best…

    – jim

  18. Its amazing how no-one is willing to expose themselves on this forum. I think the shot is fine. Not amazing, not crap, but its fine. To all the haters, let me ask you this. How many photos have you taken today?

  19. I really enjoyed this post. The image isn’t mind blowing, but it is a great mix of Aaron’s style and ESPN Mag’s style. Looks like good teamwork. Job well done, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from both parties.

  20. Please keep The Daily Edit going. Don’t pay attention to the grumpy commenters. They’re probably just internet know it alls who wish they could shoot for a living and their fears come out as anger.

  21. Loved the Q&A, please expand on this concept.

    I wa becoming turned off to this idea because there was no substance to the posts and the comments were nothing but complaints about the series.

  22. You are absolutely right. From now on it’s only happy comments. “Oh Rob, you’re so great.” “I LOVE, LOVE LOVE this site.” “Ooh, Heidi, that’s the finest job of hacking pages out of a magazine and scanning them I’ve ever seen.” Everything is just so great. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s post — because it will be soooooooo great.

    • “Youasked Forit” sounds like a 6-year-old.

      Will the grown-ups in the room please raise their hands?

    • oh, that so original. all I ever wanted is for non working photographers like yourself to heap praise on me. I think I’ll start a column on tripods and camera bags next.

      • That would be great! I LOVE tripods and bags. Maybe something on cats too?

  23. Since I read via google reader I don’t normally look at the comments. When it was pointed out to me I was amazed. I loved this post. I loved how the photographer isn’t a huge name. He is a guy trying to make a living doing commercial and editorial work. I love the Q&A and I think the work is fantastic. Sorry if some people want to see 10 more lights and the sharpening pushed to 11 but this is a guy who got a great assignment and turned it into exactly what I hope to provide on every shoot, good quality work. I have had his site open in a tab since this post and I really hope to see more posts like this. Great work by everyone involved.

  24. Heidi, I like the expansion on the shoot with the details supplied via short interview. Great addition and looking forward to more. Grounds crews are tough to get along with prior to games, off days are not so tough though.

    I don’t remember who made the comment above about the influence of blogs and the affect of working for those who peruse the daily fare provide for our benefit. You can critque and be professional. Based on the fact that this site pulls in about 0.003% of global sweb traffic(alexa information), I would consider what you say.

  25. Love the image/blog post/people involved. Or, hate it all. Absolutely, have whatever opinion you want. It doesn’t matter. Showing respect for our peers is what does, however. Starting controversy just for the sake of attention is boring.

  26. As a Photo Editor who’s worked at ESPN The Mag until very recently, i’m pretty surprised to see such controversy over what was a great opening spread and story.

    Btw: We’re pretty good with Lightbulbs..

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