ESPN magazine is without a doubt one of my favorite mags to shoot for. In this biz, when you get a call for an assignment from a magazine, you usually want to hear about it before saying yes, so you don’t get roped into something you don’t really want to do. Not the case when I get a call from ESPN. Whenever I get a call from them for a shoot, the answer is always yes. Doesn’t matter what it is, I always know I want to do it. I’ve Never said no to anything that they have offered up. Not only are athletes one of my favorite subjects to shoot, but the magazine itself: the photography editing, the design and photography treatment, and the reporting, are the best in the magazine business. I don’t think anyone in the mag biz would argue otherwise. When I think back to all of the shoots for all the different magazines I’ve done over the years, a lot of my personal favs were for ESPN……... So, my cell phone rings a few weeks ago, and you know, you look at the number. When it starts with 522, you know its coming from time inc.. if it’s 286, it’s conde nast. If its 573, its one of the rodale mags. And if its 515, its ESPN. Now, I love seeing any of those numbers on my phone, that’s the truth. But I get just a little bit giddy when I see 515, cause I know there’s a great assignment photographing an athlete on the other end of the call. I pick up, its Jim Surber, “hey you wanna go down to texas and shoot the Texas Longhorns QB for the cover of the college football preview? His name is Colt McCoy”. I’ve hadn’t heard of Colt McCoy,(although that is a great pornstar name if I ever did hear one), but one search on google tells me he almost won the heisman last year and will probably win it this year. I love shooting athletes because they are that rare photographic subject. They aren’t what we call “real people” because they transcend that genre as they have this super physical talent that you and I don’t have. And they aren’t what we call “celebrity”, because they aren’t actors or in the performing arts. What they are, is an amalgamation of the 2 really. A “real person” with an amazing physical talent and the skill to make it look great on camera. And also the need to “perform” like an actor. And a great body to boot. In short, a photographic goldmine……….Headed down to Austin TX with Jim during the hottest time of year, late july. The shoot took place in the middle of the stadium where they play their home games, and it was hot. 120 degrees according to the groundskeeper with the thermometer. We just wanted to catch Colt like he just got done training in the Texas heat while he flashed that infectious smile. I also put up a huge white backdrop for a more stylized option for the inside image. The shoot went great, Colt was a great subject. Professional athletes (or in this case a college athlete good enough to be on the cover of ESPN) are such a pleasure to photograph. When you catch them as a normal person they are just like you and I and all of the other “real people” out there. Uncomfortable, awkward, and self conscious. But when you put them in their comfort zone, which is as an athlete, they really do come alive and make my job such a pleasure to do. Here’s the cover image and the inside image, as well as some behind the scenes and outtakes. Enjoy.