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My First Cover: Photographing Andrew McCutchen for Sports Illustrated

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SI

Being a freelance photographer has its ups and downs, its pros and cons. We all know this going into it. One of the most exciting parts, for me, is that anything could happen, at any time. Most jobs we get come out of nowhere. And this is a perfect example.

A couple weeks ago, on a Tuesday evening, I was zoned out on the computer catching up on retouching some photos – it was a slow week and that’s basically all I had going on. As I’m starting to think about dinner, I got a call from Brad Smith, the Director of Photography at Sports Illustrated, asking if I was available to fly to Pittsburgh for a shoot first thing Thursday morning. “Yes, of course.” (That’s what you say when Sports Illustrated calls. Yes, of course.)

Turns out they were sending me to Pittsburgh to shoot Andrew McCutchen, of the Pittsburgh Pirates…..potentially for the cover.

There are a couple reasons this is amazing:

  • I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. This is a big deal.
  • Holy s**t I might be getting the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Don’t get me wrong — had this been anybody else for the cover, I would have been ecstatic. It’s still the cover of Sports Illustrated. But this was different, and special. You see, I bleed black and gold. This is a fact. So for my first cover to involve a Pittsburgh athlete, and eventual legend, is beyond a big deal. I’ve worked so hard, for a long time to get an opportunity like this — and it’s like I got to share the experience with all my friends and family who helped get me to that moment. I got to represent the city that raised me.

Scouting

si2The day before the shoot – I flew into Pittsburgh to scout out the location we’d be shooting, PNC Park. We only had McCutchen for 15 minutes, and had to do two different set ups – so we had to be very precise on where we’d be taking the photo.

I’d scout the location, and send options back to Brad to see what he thinks would work best for the layout. We decided it’d work best if I shot all wide horizontal shots from the upper deck, showcasing the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline. This way, it could be an option as a spread, or just crop in for a vertical for the cover.

Ok. Less reading. More photos.

Side note: Having PNC Park to yourself is pretty amazing.

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These are the seats we eventually removed to make room for our shot.
These are the seats we eventually removed to make room for our shot.

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Standing in: After checking out the whole stadium, we decided this would be our best angle/positioning along the skyline.
Standing in: After checking out the whole stadium, we decided this would be our best angle/positioning along the skyline.

The Shoot

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And that s a wrap!
And that’s a wrap!

A Couple of Unpublished Photos

Andrew McCutchen by Coty Tarr, for Sports Illustrated
Andrew McCutchen by Coty Tarr, for Sports Illustrated
Andrew McCutchen by Coty Tarr, for Sports Illustrated
Andrew McCutchen by Coty Tarr, for Sports Illustrated
Barnes and Noble, NYC - I had nothing to do with this.
Barnes and Noble, NYC – I had nothing to do with this.

About the Author: Coty Tarr is a portrait and active-lifestyle photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. His clients include Gatorade, Monster Energy, USA Network and Sports Illustrated. To see more of his work, head over to his website or give him a follow on Twitter and Instagram. This article originally appeared here.

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