Last year I got my first assignment from Yankee Magazine. I got to spend a freezing February morning with Bill Jones' alter ego Captain Plunger as he prepared for his yearly plunge into the freezing waters of Hampton Beach for the Penguin Plunge put on by the New Hampshire Special Olympics. Bill has been doing the plunge since it's inception, and over the last 17 years he continues to be the one individual who raises the most money each year.
I spent a chilly Sunday morning with Bill as he prepared for the Plunge. If you haven't seen the Plunge in person, the event itself is over in a matter of minutes. Participants line up on Hampton Beach and wait for the signal. Once that signal goes off, everyone runs down to the water and dives, runs or leaps in. Then, just as fast as they hopped into the water, they hop back out again.
I photographed Bill before the event and wanted something nice and simple with him standing near the water on the beach. The plan was to also get Bill while he was in the water as well, but because of how the event is organized, it wasn't possible to linger to get a portrait of Bill. Lifeguards who are in the water make sure the stream of participants is moving fast and fluid as they skitter down to the water and back up again. Once you are in the water, you are directed to get right back out again to prevent overcrowding.
Bill, taken after the event, in dry clothes.
Because I didn't get a lot of time with Bill in the water, I asked him if he would be up for getting together with me again and some point later in the year, so we could spend a little more time together and I could create some portraits of him in the water at our leisure. Bill was up for it, and so later that year, on a beautiful July 4th, I met with Bill again at the ocean and we waded together into the warmer waters of Hampton Beach.
This time I got Captain Plunger to wade out to his waist and we got a chance to move around a bit.
For these shots, I shot with my 135mm lens so that I could compress the background and make it about Bill and the water without getting any visual distractions in the frame (and there were plenty - especially the row-boat full of onlookers who kept crossing through into frame).
This gave me a greater variety of images that the editors of Yankee could look through, and I'm very happy I took the time to have another session with Bill. And I'm very thankful that Bill was willing to meet with me again for additional photography. Bill, if you are reading this, thank you, Sir! Thank you so much not only for working with me on your portrait, but also all that you do in the name of Special Olympics.
My toolkit for a day at the beach with Captain Plunger
If you live in the NH area and want to participate, please consider doing so. Any group of people willing to freeze their butts off jumping into the ocean in February for a good cause is the kind of people you want to be around: a little crazy, a little nuts, but supporting fantastic causes.
You can read some of the article here.
Thanks to Yankee Magazine for giving me a chance. I look forward to more assignments from them.