One of my earliest lessons in feature photography came from a colleague who suggested I keep an eye out for “the character” in the crowd. The character is an extrovert, the person who isn’t afraid to say what’s on his or her mind, and if given half a chance, will gladly perform. In theory, the character serves as a catalyst for whatever action will take place. To internalize this as a photographer allows you to better anticipate what and where things will happen so you can be there to capture it.
When I was assigned to shoot a story on a group of actors and comedians, I was delighted. The first thing that occurred to me was that I wouldn’t be at a loss for characters. I wasn’t disappointed. I spent the better part of two days photographing and filming veteran Story Pirate, Peter McNerney. Story Pirates is a nonprofit organization that visits schools to help teach young children the basics of writing. Not unlike the character who serves as a catalyst for action in everyday life, the Story Pirates serve as catalysts for student inspiration as they perform the children’s ideas on stage. —Emile Wamsteker