DPP Home Profiles Jared McMillen: Energy & Emotion

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jared McMillen: Energy & Emotion

The sports portraiture of Jared McMillen

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“We’ve started to do more and more compositing over the past couple of years,” McMillen explains, “solely because we’re often under the gun to create images in less and less time. Eighty percent of our portrait work is on location; we’re often shooting athletes when they have very demanding schedules. We’re lucky to get 15 minutes with them to create images that our clients need. Because 90 percent of the time, we have limited time with our subjects, we turn to compositing.

“For instance,” McMillen says, “we shot Kevin Durant recently for a cover. We were lucky to shoot him for an hour, but our client wanted three different looks. So basically we were forced to shoot in the same indoor location. When I shot a couple frames of him with the hoodie, I was like, these would be awesome if he was in an alley. So in post I decided to work it up and see how it looked. The end result feels much more engaging to me. Due to the fact that Kevin was in town for a very limited amount of time, there was no way we could have pulled off this shot, so we turned to the power of post production and ended with a result that we really liked.

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“I could go on and on with stories,” McMillen continues, “like when we shot Danica Patrick, and the makeup artist was a no-show, and we ended up with about 30 minutes to shoot three different looks that we originally would have had three hours for. Or when we shot another celeb, and his show was canceled the night before the shoot. Something always goes wrong. It doesn’t really matter what, but something always does. We’ve worked around so many things going wrong on set that we’ve come to expect it. We feed off something getting screwed up, and we pride ourselves on working around it quickly and making our clients happy in the end.”

That approach—going beyond the simple shot that may be a given or the only shot one could reasonably pull off in a short amount of time—is indicative of McMillen’s all-out approach. One wonders if a history as a professional rock climber—someone who literally overcomes massive obstacles with simple hard work—is why he’s able to create great photographs under the gun. He takes a very practical approach: Get the shot, then go further. Push as far as you can in the allotted time. Overcome the obstacles.

When McMillen wants to get “the shot,” he relies on interpersonal skills as much as photographic ones to make it happen.

“Once we’re convinced the shot is in the bag,” McMillen says, “we turn to our own ideas. We shoot for our clients first and then shoot what we think will be interesting, and often try to push our ideas as far as we can in hopes of making a more compelling image. We’ve always photographed this way, and nine times out of 10, our clients select images from our own vision from the shoot. These are the images that make up our portfolio.”


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