Friday, May 25, 2007
Max Morse - Making Pictures
Although just beginning his professional career, Max Morse is already landing big jobs and in the process building an impressive portfolio of work
Beyond the Kentucky Derby, Morse has been a shooter and assistant at a host of top-level sports events. Says Morse, “I've done a World Series, three Super Bowls, the MLB All-Star Game. It's not as many as I'd like, but I feel like I'm growing and I'm getting there. It's not always shooting, and while being there's cool, when my name is on the picture, that's what I'm really working toward.”
Morse has been able to get his career off the ground so strongly at least partly because he has been one of the top assistants to Sports Illustrated's Peter Read Miller. Miller knows talent when he sees it, and he has helped Morse land a number of good gigs independent of the SI empire.
There's no shortage of gifted young photographers out in the world, and while Morse certainly has plenty of talent, he also acknowledges that one of the keys to his success has little to do with his abilities as a photographer. “I know a ton of great photographers, but they have no talent for working with clients,” says Morse. “I think one of the reasons I get as much work as I do is because I seem to have a talent for networking with the right people. Back when I was at Brooks, I put together my Website and made a logo and created an image. That image gets remembered and helps to keep me on the right speed dials.”
When shooting more mainstream sports, Morse continues to try new ideas and get unique looks in his pictures. Younger photographers working to break in are competing with a group of established imaging pros, and if the younger shooter doesn't have something different from the tried and true, he or she will struggle to get noticed. Morse has an innate sense of how to create the kind of images that stand out from the crowd.
Naturally, it takes more than just an image to keep the phone ringing, and Morse has the images to show that he's more than just a memorable logo—but that ability to network and create an impression is tremendously valuable. Too many younger pros set out with a sense of entitlement that the world should recognize their shooting talent, and the jobs and the money should simply roll in. The facts of life are that this is an incredibly tough business, however, and there are far more capable photographers in the world than there are jobs to fill. If you want to be one of the photographers who can make a living, you need to have more than just a killer portfolio. Like Morse, you need to find out how you can make yourself memorable to the right people.
Sports shooting, in particular, is a field that has a glut of very good photographers and a shortage of high-profile events. While he has been in the pressure-cooker environments of top sporting events like the Super Bowl, Morse has been gravitating to less-well-known and less-popular sports. Explains Morse, “I love shooting the big sports, but there's so much at stake in those events that it's difficult to be as creative as I'd like. When I shoot a sport like field hockey or water polo, I can do a lot more. I have the freedom to move around and try new things a lot more and see what kind of pictures I can make. These sports also haven't all been done so much before, so I feel like I can really get some original shots. I know I miss plenty of shots and I'll miss many more, but there will be those that click that keep me coming back. I'm a student of the games I photograph, and I like to figure out what's going to happen. I see a situation and I think about where it seems like the action will be, and I say to myself, ‘Why not take a chance and set up for that shot?”
Increasingly for Max Morse, it has been happening, and for a talented and savvy shooter who's only in his mid-20s, we expect to see his images for a long time to come.
To see more of Max Morse's photography, visit www.maxmorse.com.
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