More often than not, my editorial shoots have very little lead time from the clients phone call to the arrival time at a location we've chosen to secure the portrait. With less than 24 hours to put our Sunday Times portrait shoot together with Navy Seal Team Six member James O'Neill, we had to get our skates on. James was staying at a nice hotel in Laguna Beach, CA. A nice hotel wasn't what I had in mind if we were to secure an interesting image of the guy who shot Osama Bin Laden. After a bunch of phone calls with his very helpful PR team and a few hours researching locations in Laguna Beach, I decided we'd be better off getting down to Laguna early before the shoot to seek out a location.
I had a poured concrete wall in mind for the background to give a bunker vibe to the shot. Upon arriving in the beach town, all we could find was fancy house walls and cinder brick built structures. As we were returning to the hotel to discuss options, we happened upon a walkway under Pacific Coast Highway. For the time we had to set up and shoot, the location was perfectly placed, edgy, cold and low key so we didn't have any onlookers.
I couldn't have wished for an easier person to shoot, or in this instance I should say photograph :-) It is interesting, during my career I have In fact met and photographed a selection of top chaps trained to the Navy Seal level and they're all very engaging, humble and unassuming. Without wanting to sound cliched, they tend to blend into the shadows. There was so many questions I wanted to ask during the shoot, but I've learnt to stay off subject, keeping it more personal to life and loves. I can tell you that James's favorite comedian in the whole world, his words, is Jim Jefferies.
It's interesting to have seen the positive reaction the citizens of the US had when the news came through that Bin Laden had been killed. The country for the most part was proud and thankful for all the men and women who have lost and risked their lives to secure this result. Now it seems James is under some scrutiny and judgement from the media and the military for breaking his silence about the mission. I'm learning more each day from both sides of the fence in this dialogue. My opinion isn't important. I had a great session with a great guy have to say, I'm thankful I never had to go through BUD's Hell Week to follow my career as a photographer.
If you're more interested in joining the Seals more than following a career in photography ;-) you can apply here
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