JerseyStyle Photography

My Day With David

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In my job, I get the chance to hire a lot of photographers, from the up and comers, to the seasoned pros.

It’s rare, however, that I get the chance to work with a dyed-in-the-wool legend. That’s what happened this past week when I had the extreme pleasure of working with photojournalist extraordinaire, David Burnett.

I’m pretty sure you know who David is, and you certainly know his photos…

(c) David Burnett

(c) David Burnett

(c) David Burnett

(c) David Burnet

For more than 40 years, David has been covering it all. About 10 days ago, I sent him an email to him to see if he’d cover something for me – a big day in my company’s history when our new CEO was taking over.

The shoot would happen during the day of our annual shareholder’s meeting, when the transition would happen. When I suggested to colleagues that a gorgeous B&W photo essay of the day – LIFE magazine style – would be cool, they jumped on it,

Then I was told me to make it happen.

Welllll…ok then!

My first call was to my buddy Joe McNally. He was really juiced to do job, but unfortunately his schedule had him in France (another cool shoot, watch his blog for more). He suggested I reach out to David.

Whoa. That’s like someone saying “Call Michelangelo for that special painting project around the house.”

Can’t say I wasn’t excited thought. After I got off the phone, I went to David’s website and sent him an email. Luckily, Joe gave him a head’s up about me, so it didn’t see totally off the wall to him.

The very next day, David called me and accepted the job. He was in the Midwest working on a story, but would be free on the 26th. We squared away some of the other business details, and then got to work getting David info.

I sent him as much as I could on our company, the new CEO being named, all that good stuff. Just tried to prep him as much as I could.

The evening before, around 7:30 p.m. we three (Me, David and David’s lovely wife, Iris) met at the hotel where he was staying. By 8:30 it was like we were old friends, talking about the job, yes, but about kids, NJ diners, and, of course all of their cool work.

We had some dinner (rib eyes all around), shook hands and called it a night. It was going to be an early day for David – since I wanted a “day in the life” essay, the new incoming CEO would be in the gym at 5:30 a.m….and I wanted David there too.

By 7:30 a.m., we were connected again, with David picking his spots and starting to get some great images from his two Canon 5Ds and one Leica.(David has quite the assortment of cameras that he likes to choose from – cool “what’s in the bag” video here.)

Right from the jump, David was working hard. And it was such pleasure to see him work – to see how he gained trust, to see how he worked a large room, embedded with two other photographers, but finding ways to get the unique ones I was looking for.

I can’t share the images he shot for us yet, unfortunately, but I hope I’ll be able to do so soon, when they become more public.

I had my S95 with me and snapped a few of David at work…

And at two different points during the day…after we had a three hour break in the afternoon and he cleared some cards, and then the next morning….David gave me a hard drive with all of this RAW files, in color, and told me to finish them in B&W.

So, I became David Burnett’s finisher, if only for a while. At one point, he was in my office, looking over my shoulder as I opened some files as asked him how he likes to convert them to B&W. It was pretty simple, and once after I did one, he said “Looks great. Like it’s still wet, coming out of the darkroom.”

Clicking on those RAW files was like opening Christmas presents. So many times I said something to the effect of “Holy Sugar that’s a great shot.” So many good ones. My first broad edit and finish produced 73 images that I was more than happy to share with my boss and others in my department, including the new CEO.

“Fantastic.” “Stunning.” “Remarkable.” – these are some of the returns I’ve gotten about his work.

Tomorrow, I’ll do a tighter edit and put together the essay, complete with captions. We may do a book for the new CEO and his family too.

Working with David has been such a great, memorable experience. Such a mild-manner, sweet man, with such a great eye.

I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship with him.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved

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