For a long time, Daniel Bedell dreamed of shooting for one of his favorite magazines, ESPN The Magazine. This year, Daniel has been fortunate enough to shoot a number of projects for the magazine and several of them have been fan shoots, although the title “fan” seems insufficient. These people are more like FANATICS! He began an assignment featuring Baltimore Orioles fan, Romeo Santos, which grew into a shoot featuring Romeo, his son Camden and a few of his die-hard super fans, all adorned in the Os’ orange and black regalia.
In the last few years I’ve moved much more towards a style that uses a lot of natural light and in general strives to feel beautiful, but natural. I have shot a lot of stylized lit portraits though and still really enjoy that. I’ve done several of these ESPN Super Fan shoots this year and you’re often shooting in some small spaces like basements, bedrooms, living rooms all filled with tons of memorabilia so I have gone ahead and shot them all as lit portraits.
Daniel even managed to get a smile from Romeo’s baby son, Camden, whose name is a reference to Camden Yards, the location of Oriole Park. After completing some portraits in Romeo’s decked out living space, the pair set off to Eutaw Street with Romeo’s friend Neal and a few other friends who were taping a promo video at the time. Though this was a paid assignment, David also felt a personal connection to the project.
I think the sad truth is when it comes to paid work it is hard to get both jobs that are visually and intellectually interesting. Personal work let’s you be in charge of the assignment and able to dictate style, time of day you shoot, how long the project and what direction you take it. I think this puts you in the drivers seat moving forward as you try to get jobs that are more and more like your personal work.
The photo documentation of Romeo and his friends did not come without challenges for Daniel.
With this project like a lot of the fan shoots the issue is space. These fans usually have a ton of cool stuff, but often all spread out over their house and figuring out a great composition is hard. The fun part is that they are excited for the experience and you can usually get them to do some crazy things. The second part with the rest of the guys at Camden Yards was very spontaneous, I knew something was happening but I wasn’t given any details in part because they were making it up as they went. As I said in my blog post Baltimore is a great place for spontaneous weirdness.
Overall, the images were greatly received by ESPN and by the shoot’s subject, Romeo.
My editor at the magazine loved the images, especially the ones with the subject, Romeo’s son Camden. She decided that he was baby Carlos from the Hangover. They put out the image with the feather boa out on social media to hype the project before and then ran the one with the baby wearing sunglasses. I recently shot another thing for ESPN at an Orioles game and saw Romeo and he told me how the photos were one of the coolest thing that had ever happened to him.
While he doesn’t have any immediate plans on continuing the project, Daniel hopes that he can get more Super Fan assignments, as they are a lot of fun. He also learned one very important fact about super fans.
If your baseball team gets a Super Fan feature there is a great chance you’ll contend for first place!
To see more of Daniel’s work, visit his website.