CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines for Washingtonian Magazine

As I was sitting on my couch one night, I got a call from a photographer who I really look up to and admire their work a lot. “What are you doing June 7th?” he asked. Initially, all I could think was, “If anything, I’ll cancel it.” After checking my schedule, I told him that day was open. That’s when he said, “Good. You’re photographing the deputy director of the CIA.

I’ve had the opportunity of photographing high ranking officials of the U.S. government in the past, but learning that I would be going inside the CIA to photograph Deputy Director Avril Haines was pretty damn exciting. I got in touch with the team at Washingtonian Magazine, and they shared details of what exactly they were needing from the assignment.

It was an early morning on the day of the shoot. My assistant/friend, Rich, and I were to be setting up for the shoot by 8:00am. However, we had to arrive extra early so that we had time to go through all their security measures. After a dog crawled and sniffed through the inside of the car, we eventually made it inside where our gear was checked and checked again. Everything went smoothly and we got set up in the conference room where I would photograph Haines. We finished setting up around 8:30am, and then learned that Haines wouldn’t be arriving until 10:00am. So Rich and I sat in the conference room for an hour and a half talking about all kinds of television shows with the CIA’s PR team.

Eventually, Haines arrived and was very upbeat. After introductions, she got into place, and we got started. Going into shoots like this, it’s a good idea to do some research on your subject so you have something to talk to them about. I had a handful of topics to bring up, but went a different route. I could easily tell that she was very easy going, so I mentioned that she missed out on our long conversation about what television shows we all watch. It was great because she chimed right in with a couple of her favorites and got the discussion going again. That’s when Rich shared his infinite love for Frozen and got everyone laughing.

What seemed like may be a very dry assignment turned out to actually be a lot of fun for everyone involved. This just goes to show that it is what you make it to be, and I always try for the enjoyable side of the spectrum. Before leaving, our escort even took the time to show Rich and I the CIA Memorial Wall. I would have never imagined having the chance to see that in person, and getting to was certainly an added bonus to the day.

You can check out the article here on the Washingtonian Magazine website.

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