When I do photography at Pokemon events, I generally try to capture the events of the day as they unfold. My approach is more documentary than art. The goal is create a collection so that a viewer can later experience the event as if they were there. The small moments matter. The actions of players, staff, family members and other attendees are shot live and candid.
There are a few exceptions. During the player's meeting, when I walk the aisles many players will pose or smile for a shot that often becomes their next Facebook profile pic. Later in the event, for "Top cut" rounds, I will often ask the players and judges to turn to the camera for a group Top 8 picture when everyone is seated. The other obvious time I will pose a shot is for trophy pics. Players always like a trophy pic. Even though posed, I try to make the shots fun and relaxed.
Sometimes an inspiration occurs and you have to break the rules and create a moment. One of my favorite examples was with Jacob Van Wagner at the 2015 World Championships in Boston. Jacob had just became the world champion and was surrounded by his friends on the main floor. Looking at what was developing in front of me amidst the mayhem of hugs and hi-fives, I wanted to do something special for the new champ. The present scene was a sea-of-same. Champs get swarmed in celebration. Yawn. But what else can we do? I reflected on Jacob. What I knew of him as a person. For years I have shot pics of Jacob. I know him as one of the most polite, humble and reserved players in the game. Then it hit me. Lets do the opposite. Don't capture the moment. Make a moment. Lets pose Jacob with his friends. But let's take the opposite to an extreme. Juxtapose him in contrast to his regular persona to mark his championship moment. OK. Great. But what to do? How do we quickly reshape the group into a meaningful shot without having to pose each person? I searched for inspiration.
Then it hit me. The Wayne's World scene with Alice Cooper. Wayne and Garth bow down to Alice Cooper exclaiming "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" Perfect. I briefly discussed the concept with Jacob and he approved so we quickly called it out to the group. It all fell together naturally in a moment.
The result is a non-traditional pic that captures Jacob's championship moment with his friends. For those who know him, its hilarious because it captures exactly who he isn't. In that artificially forced pretentious moment, we reflect on who Jacob really is. A humble individual, accomplished competitor and good friend. 2015 Masters World Champion.