When the Outback Pro-Am Golf Tournament was held last month in Tampa, Beam Global Spirits and Wine was a sponsor and needed a photographer to shoot images of the celebrities in attendance as well as people enjoying Beam products.
Through my affiliation with Getty Images, they hired me for a three-day shoot.
The first night was the Aussie Bash, featuring Montgomery-Gentry as the entertainment. The band is affiliated with Jim Beam products and even uses a guitar with the Jim Beam logos on it.
I spent some time backstage with the band, shooting meet and greet photographs, as well as anything that included Jim Beam branding (photographs including logos or products).
That was a big part of what I was hired to shoot: Photograph celebrities and guests enjoying Jim Beam products. Beam public relations people wanted them to use in their marketing efforts, as well as for distribution through Getty Images.
Day two of the shoot was the Hornitos Challenge, or the first day of practice on the golf course. I knew there were a bunch of celebrities scheduled to attend, but the guidance I got from my Jim Beam contact was to follow Bill Murray. It turned out to be a good choice.
Murray caused an immediate stir among the fans and the media when he showed up for the practice round. All eyes and cameras began following him. He didn’t disappoint. Jim Beam’s PR people were total pros at what they did. They corralled Murray within the first 15 minutes of his arrival, shoved a bottle of Hornitos tequilla into his hand and moved him in front of their “step and repeat” (backdrop featuring sponsor logos used on red carpets, etc.)
The consumate comedian, Murray pretended to drink from the un-opened bottle. Shutter click. I was off to a good start for the day. I knew I had a good photo for my clients: Superstar comedian Bill Murray fake-drinking from a bottle of my client’s tequilla, in front of a backdrop featuring the same.
It was branding at its best. Bill Murray was happy too. He kept the bottle of Hornitos.
The rest of the day wouldn’t be so easy. I had never shot golf before, but I did study the Getty Images web site to see how their professionals shot golf before I left for the shoot. (www.gettyimages.com)
It was a learning experience on the golf course that day. The first time i shot someone teeing off, I had yet to learn that you don’t click your shutter until after they’ve connected with the ball. The first tee shot I photographed, I learned that the hard (easy) way when everybody within about 15 yards looked at me with contempt in their eyes. No one said anything to me, but I got the message loud and clear.
This was a Thursday and Murray kept fans and golfers alike on the edge of their seats with his antics. He “performed” all day.
We had started the day about 10am. By about 2pm, Murray had run out of ice for his drink and stopped, un-announced, at one of the course-side homes to refill.
Linda Petrovich was obviously suprised when she came to her sliding glass door and found Bill Murray, 2 videographers and two still photographers standing there. The look on her face was priceless.
These photographs were posted to Getty Images for distribution. A few media outlets picked them up that day, but the story really took off the following day (I wasn’t working) when Murray struck a woman with an errant tee shot. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/04/13/GA2009041300819.html)
Murray was extremely generous to fans, posing for photographs, trading quips, signing autographs, flirting with women and doing just about anything anybody asked him to do. I’ve shot a lot of celebrities in the past five years and many times my opinion of them is formed, not by their latest film, but by the way they treat and interact with their fans. Bill Murray now ranks high on my list of favorite celebrity subjects.
Mark Wahlberg was there for the practice round too, but I didn’t expect to get the same cooperation, nor photo opportunites, with him. From what I had heard, Wahlberg was notoriously unfriendly with the press. That day, it wasn’t true.
Wahlberg was very accomodating and gave me another great branding shot for Jim Beam. He also talked with fans, gave us an interview for Jim Beam TV, signed autographs and posed for photographs with fans. He was also a pretty good golfer.
Shooting golf is not an easy shoot. You have to carry lots of gear, you have to travel long distances (we did have a golf cart), you have to capture peak action, the days are long and you must be extremely cautious to not disrupt the golfers.
I consider it a successful shoot though. A lot of publications picked up my photographs, my client got lots of photographs that they had wanted and I got paid.
It’s what I hope for with all my shoots.