"Deer in the headlights". At the time of the above photo, I wasn't completely sure if that phrase applied to me or to Olivia Munn.
With the release of the major motion picture blockbuster "Wonder Woman" by Warner Brothers this weekend, I felt that this photo was somewhat apropos, given that she has always held a public admiration for the comic book icon.
2009 was the first year that I had the opportunity to shoot for Fox 5 News San Diego at Comic-Con international San Diego, and I was nervous. I hadn't gotten my sea legs yet as a working photographer, and I was surrounded by professionals who had been at this for years. These pros knew who to look for, where to look for them, and how to get them to stop for a photo - all the while, with poise and professionalism, choking down any fanboy excitement that we all knew was just simmering below the surface. I, on the other hand, was still secretly following people down the exhibit floor aisles, deciding whether or not I was going to summon up the courage to ask them to stop. Sometimes I did. Sometimes, I missed out.
One of the first celebrities I ever had the opportunity to shoot at Comic-Con was Olivia Munn. At the time, she was riding high off the success of her television show, "Attack of the Show" on the G4 network. She was the cute girl-next-door that grew up and became a sex symbol for the new nerd generation. Nerd girls wanted to be her, and nerd boys wanted to be with her. One moment, she could be broadcasting in a Chun Li or Princess Leia cosplay. The next moment, she could be dancing seductively with a dead octopus stuffed down her shirt, or trying to figure out exactly how many sausages she could fit into her mouth. Complete package. Smart, funny, beautiful and down-to-earth. Belle of the Nerd Ball, as it were.
And this was BEFORE she would go on to write a best-selling book entitled, "Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek". This was BEFORE she would date Green Bay Packers superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. And this was definitely BEFORE she would move on to Hollywood, with memorable roles in "Magic Mike", "Iron Man 2" and "X-Men: Apocalypse" as fan-favorite mutant ninja assassin / psychic Psylocke.
Knowing this, I decided that this was going to be a defining moment for me behind the camera. It was time to decide whether or not I was going to do my job, or let the opportunity fall by the wayside.
I choked down my inner fanboy, took a few steps ahead of her, flashed my press badge (to help avert the notion that I was just a "creepy guy with a camera"), and politely asked if I could take a few photos. I took 5 or 6 photos, the last of which, my favorite, is the one you see above. She was friendly and generous with her time, which luckily, in the end, made the experience of my first celebrity photo easy for me.
Unfortunately... for Ms. Munn, our encounter lasted a little longer than it should have, as she was then mobbed by a thousand people wanting selfies (or whatever people called them in 2009). Yeesh. Seriously. My bad.
I like to think that her expression in the photo is one of awkward understanding, knowing that I was new to this element, and she was trying to help me "fake it until I make it." I was a deer in the proverbial headlights, and she was going to slowly pump the brakes, and gently nudge me off the road.
In reality, her expression was probably more indicative of the fact that I just stopped Comic-Con's most sought-after deer in the middle of the road, asked her to wave, and invited a thousand cars, with a thousand headlights, to run her over... one at a time... for the next ten minutes.
A learning experience for me on multiple fronts: 1) If you don't step up, the opportunity won't happen. 2) Act like you belong there, and most people will unknowingly believe it. 3) Be ready with your camera, because moments are fleeting. 4) Be quick but efficient with your photos, mostly because nobody really wants to wipe deer blood off of their windshield.