Jason Collins for Sports Illustrated



Late one Wednesday evening, after presenting work at a MOPLA event, I received an email from Sports Illustrated’s Photography Director, Brad Smith, about a job to be completed the following day–with a top secret subject to be disclosed the day of the shoot.  This would be my first Sports Illustrated cover, and one of my most exciting jobs yet–so needless to say, I said yes immediately.  Sports Illustrated has always been a staple for great sports imagery, and their veteran photographer Walter Iooss has been a great mentor and friend to me over the years.

The following 24 hours went by in a blur of flurries of emails, contracts, and assignment details being exchanged back and forth between the East & West coasts.  However, all I knew was that this was a top secret story that required lifestyle imagery of Collins–my agents, producers, shooting team and I still were not aware of the subject or story, just that we needed to give a range of options for the SI photo editing team in NYC.  My main objective was to keep the images “unaffected and real.”

The morning of the shoot, we discover the subject is NBA player Jason Collins, of the Washington Wizards–but we still do not know what the story is about.

I chose to bring a small select team and kept the imagery more about Jason and his spirit, pushing the work in a positive direction.  Sometimes it can be hard to make a connection with a subject, but the best way to make them feel relaxed in front of the camera is to put down the camera and just talk with them.  Jason made this easy, being a personable and pleasant person to interact with.  He went with the flow and made the shoot very special and fun.  The images we created together reflect his courage and humanity on so many levels.  After learning his story, I feel that the photographs truly capture his personal journey and present state of mind.  I am thrilled to have been a part of bringing this important story to the light.

Read the article here


  1. Pingback: Kwaku Alston on his “top-secret” cover shoot for Sports Illustrated « Stockland Martel

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