Saint Mary’s College asked me to photograph a series of notable alumni, students and professors for their Annual Report. The task was to photograph them in an environment that spoke to who they are, what they currently do or something in their past.
I photographed actor Mahershala Ali in his hometown park in Hayward, California, where he spent his early years playing basketball. Mahershala attended Saint Mary’s College on a basketball scholarship. While at SMC, he discovered a passion for acting and has been a successful working actor in the industry for over 10 years. You may have seen him recently as Remy Danton, the oil and gas lobbyist in the Netflix series House of Cards. He is also starring in the newest Hunger Games film series which hits theaters this November. Mahershala’s personal character, his poise and confidence in front of the camera allowed me to fully concentrate on creating a wonderful group of compelling portraits. This man’s true character shines through in front of and off camera, it was a truly positive experience.
Another great session was working with SMC staff member Brother Michael. Over the years I’ve developed ways to disarm and engage non-professional talent and one of those ways is to ask if they have any nicknames. For Brother Michael it was an affectionate title his family used when he was growing up – ‘Mikey’. So as soon as we started talking about this name a very joyful and relaxing smile lit up his face, so much that it would also cause me to smile from ear to ear behind the camera…Many thanks Brother Mikey!
Some of the others in the Annual Report included a science student, captain of the soccer team, and Mario Alioto, The San Francisco Giants Senior VP who gave me an open door to anywhere in the ballpark. Being involved with the project further deepened my love of working with higher ed clients which often provides such a rich connection to so many unique and dynamic individuals.
Special thanks to the wonderful team of creatives at Saint Mary’s College for thinking of me for this and for bringing so many great people together.