I just got back to NYC from the shootout. They gave us about 2 and a half days to shoot. The story topic was rituals and the single topics were architecture and cable car. I'll post some more words later when I have time, but I just wanted to get the photos up for all that are interested. I placed 1st with these images. Congrats to Brian Frank and John W. Adkissonn who placed second and third, respectively, and to the other photo finalists Jake Stevens, Brian Anselm and Carl Kiilsgaard.
| Chronicle of Events |
When I found out I was accepted as one of the final six shooters, I made a list of people I knew in San Francisco and also asked friends for their contacts. I did a little research and bought a travel book to get a bit familiar with the city. I have only been there a couple times, once as a child and once pretty recently for a couple days. So my knowledge of the city was limited, but in a way that allowed me to have fresh eyes and perspective and not take common place things for granted.
I arrived to SF Tuesday afternoon, checked in and had the rest of the afternoon to do whatever. So, I walked around a bit, took a nap, and then met the rest for dinner. After dinner we had portfolio reviews with the judges and then received our assignments. I think most of us did a bit of research and brainstorming, got some sleep and woke up pretty early to get started. I struggled a while at first trying to come up with a good story. I called many many people and had a lot of ideas but nothing solid. Since one of the assignments was to shoot a cable car book cover, I hopped on the cable car in between attempts at finding a story. The cable car ended at Fisherman's Wharf, so I decided to check it out. As I entered the Disneylandesque tourist trap with 3 for $10 t-shirts sales on every corner I almost turned back. This is something I usually avoid, but I decided to keep pushing through until I got to the water.
I grew up on the water and seem to gravitate toward it wherever I go. There is always a sense of freedom and adventure that accompanies the water for me. So I figured that fishermen must think of it as a ritualistic escape from terrestrial humans. It's amazing how even though the pier is right next to the large tourist street, the tourists rarely venture out to where the actual fishermen come in and out.
I asked around for a while in an attempt to find some fishermen who were going out the next day and would be willing to take me out on a boat. I had no luck at first. Then I found a man at his large crabbing boat and I talked to him for a bit. He wasn't going out the next day but after 15 minutes he asked me if I had lunch yet and invited me into his cabin for some steamed crab he just caught and a cold beer. This was the first time that day that I calmed down and told myself that it was all going to be alright. Here I was, a mere 10 minute walk from overpriced restaurants on a man's boat who had been fishing all his life eating the fruits of his labor for free. All it took is a little curiosity, an open mind and the willingness to listen.
Finally, a boat pulled up next to his and warmly invited me to go out the next day at 8am. So, I took it easy for the rest of the day and continued to talk to different fishermen coming in and out with hopes of finding a boat that was going out earlier. The next day I showed up early, about 3:30am in hopes that there would be a crew going out earlier. There wasn't, but there was a crew coming in on a huge boat after a three-day trip. I hung with them for a while and shot the unloading process. Then, shortly before the meeting time for the other boat, one of the deck hands sparked one up and told me that smoking was one of his rituals. At that point things started to fall into place.
I spent from about 8am to 1am the next morning with the captain Sean and the crew on the anchovy boat. We made two trips out, one in the day and one at night, with a Hooter's break in between. It was very exhausting, but the energy on the boat and the beauty of the bay kept me rolling. We rode under blue skies in the day and a full moon at night, rubbing up close to huge cargo ships waiting to dock. As we slowly drove back to the pier, a couple of the crew and I went down to the cabin and slept. My body melted into the cushy plank and I finally felt at ease.