Spotlight on Pete Marovich

 

TID:
 
What an striking picture! This image really stood out on that day, please tell us a little of the backstory.
 
PETE:
 
I was on assignment for ZUMA Press covering the two days of oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. This was from the second day when DOMA was on the docket. The front of the Supreme Court was the site of protests and speeches on both days as well as interviews with the plaintiffs and attorneys after the oral arguments were heard.
 
TID:
 
How did you prepare for this shoot, or what did you do to put yourself in place to make this happen?
 
 
PETE:
 
This involved basically showing up at sunrise, waiting and watching. Demonstrations, protests and marches are always a bonanza of imagery. Since the previous day featured a large parade of demonstrators in favor of Prop. 8, and another massive group of demonstrators who protested in front of the Court, I was not sure just how many people would show up the second day. As the sun was coming up, there were much more media than activists, so I was a little worried that the second day would not be as good as first. Thankfully things picked up about 9 a.m.
 
TID:
 
What challenges did you encounter while working to make this image?
 
PETE:
 
The biggest challenge shooting in the morning in front of the Supreme Court is the light, especially on a sunny day. The sun rises behind the Court, so if you want the Court in the background, you end up shooting into the sun. And, of course, anytime you are shooting an event with a lot of media and large crowds, the ability to move around easily can be an issue. Many times you see a photo that you just can’t get to in time.
 
TID:
 
How did you handle and overcome these problems? 
 
PETE:
 
As for the light, I always try to use it to my advantage as much as possible. When shooting toward the Court, I constantly tried to have the camera in the shadow of someone or something to prevent lens flare. That said, as much of a problem as it can be shooting into the sun, it does give opportunities for some dramatic images. I have found that working in large crowds with a lot of media around is mainly an exercise in patience. If you get too wrapped up in the frenzy of the moment, many times you miss more than you get. And, of course, you would like to make images that nobody else will have.
 
I try to find people I think are interesting and who have the potential to make a good photo in the right situation and light. Then I just hang around and try to keep them in my field of vision to see if something develops. Of course, I am always scanning the area for other opportunities at the same time.
 
TID:
 
Now, onto the moment. Can you talk about the moments leading up to the picture and also the actual moment. Also please tell us a little about the lighting of the image which is just fantastic!
 
 
PETE:
 
I saw this guy with the sign earlier in the morning, and even though I had already made some images of him, I kept tabs on him. I was standing off to the side of him and I saw that he was now facing away from the Court and that the white sign he was holding up was kicking light back in his face. I made my way in front of him as quickly as I could to make an image before he lowered the sign or turned around.
 
When I got there, of course, there were already some other photographers shooting. The first few images had another photographer’s camera in the frame and the subject was facing more to my left. I worked my way in position directly in front of him, and as I did, the scene cleared. As for the light, it was just the perfect way he happened to be holding the sign. It was kicking just enough fill back onto his face while still leaving deeper shadows on his torso. The light was falling off just below his red bow tie, which complimented the big red lettering on the sign so well. It really was one of those moments that was so good you couldn’t believe it.
 
 
After shooting a bunch of frames, I kept waiting to see if I could get this image with the flags in the background as perfect as I could. So it was more waiting for the breeze to move them in the right way and hoping that he would still hold the sign up.
 
TID:
 
What surprised you about the moment?
 
 
PETE:
 
Mostly the beautiful light in what is normally a really tough working environment. Also that the subject stayed in that one position for as long as he did. Most of the time you get either the light or the setting and neither tend to last very long. With so much going on in situations like this, the scene can change in an instant. Some people don’t mind being photographed and some do, so you never know how long it will be before the scene changes.
 
TID:
 
What have you learned about yourself in the process of making images like this?
 
PETE:
 
I am always reminded that patience and awareness of your surroundings pays off. The more I can be in the moment without getting caught up in it, the better the images are that I come back with, if that makes sense.
 
 
TID:
 
What have you learned about others?
 
PETE:
 
I’m always honored when people allow me to photograph them. For a few minutes they let me into their worlds, and in turn I am able to share those moments and their stories with others. It’s a humbling experience.
 
TID:
 
In conclusion, what advice do you have for photographers?
 
PETE:
 
Someone told me once to “look for the light.” I agree. I also think that patience is extremely important. Some of the best photos I have come by simply waiting and watching. Even while you are focused on what you are shooting, be aware of what is happening around you.
 
 
 
:::BIO:::
 
Pete Marovich has been working as a professional photographer for 30 years. He is currently the Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for ZUMA Press. He also contributes to McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service, Getty Images, European PressPhoto Agency and UPI. His photography has appeared in Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Financial Times, Christian Science Monitor, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones and Sports Illustrated.
 
Images from his coverage of the 2009 Presidential Inauguration were included in the Official Inaugural Book as well as being included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Pete lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area with his wife, Jenny, and their two cats.
 
His work can be seen at www.petemarovichimages.com.
 
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