Working in Darkness

alexander ovechkin

The basic paradigm of photojournalism typically centers around capturing "the moment" (though Joerg and others have been questioning some of these base assumptions about photojournalism). With that said, I'm not sure portrait photography is actually that different in terms of moment - for all the shoot sketches, lighting ratios and location scouting, finding something honest and real in the midst of all of the artifice is the challenge. Which is all a roundabout way of saying that a recent shoot with NHL superstar Alexander Ovechkin was challenging on a number of fronts. It was his 23rd birthday and spending three hours with a restless hockey player gives you a hard look whenever you ask him to move and asks "Are we done?" a minute into each shoot makes for some interesting moments. In retrospect, it was clear that Alexander Ovechkin is a kind, decent guy who seems much more comfortable being a hockey player than being a celebrity and my guess is, if he had his way, he would show up each day, play hockey then go home, talking to no one but his teammates. Writer Steve Featherstone did a great job with the accompanying piece, despite Ovechkin's one word answers to nearly every question asked of him and I think the article's description of one moment during the photo shoot just about sums up the day:

"Look over here, Alex," the photographer coaxed. A muscle in Ovechkin's jaw twitched.