A huge surprise landed my way near the end of October when I got asked to do a photo shoot with Conor McGregor for Virgin Media Ireland for their Play magazine. He would be doing press for his documentary film Notorious. I immediately felt a sense of pressure, a good pressure. You know the type, the one you get when you're about to photograph probably the most famous sports star in the world right now. The biggest question I asked myself was "How much time will I have with him?" As the days neared I set the expectation that maybe five minutes could be my maximum time since it was a press junket.
The shoot took place on Halloween during the day in the Merrion hotel. As I waited in the press room Conor popped the head in to say a quick hello to those of us waiting before returning to his room for more interviews. My designated time was to follow TV3’s Lisa Cannon's interview with him for Box Office and the Play mag. As I waited I learned that I didn’t have a set number of minutes, as soon as I got the picture I'd be done. No pressure. I had all my equipment with me, tripod, softbox and flash triggers. I quickly set up my mini softbox that is more portable, but more tricky when holding it with my left hand while taking photos with the right.
When the interview wrapped I was allowed in. People leaving took selfies as they were saying goodbye to Conor and I surveyed the darkened room, lit mainly by the large studio lights for recording the interview. In that moment I made the decision to abandon my impromptu flash set up and take advantage of the lights already set up. Before I had time to think any further Conor was introduced to me, and he asked where I wanted him standing. A standing position would have been ideal, but my decision meant I had to ask him to sit for the portrait since the lights set up at a lower level. I took a test image, updated my settings and took the portrait you can see above of him smiling. I asked him for a ‘power pose’. He raised his fists and I took three more snaps. He motioned to get up from his seat and I knew that in his mind I was to just there to get a picture There were many people in the room, and not wanting to cause any delays I knew to wrap things up. Lisa requested a quick photo with him while I was there. A big part of me wanted to get a selfie myself, but the way I looked at it was that if I could afford the time to take a selfie, then I should have used that time to get another portrait as option.
Conor was a gent to deal with for the short space of time I had. I must have had a total of one minute, resulting in four photos. I was reminded of the photography episode of Abstract on Netflix, when Platon notes at one point how he was under restriction to take just one portrait of a particular world leader. So, I guess I didn't have it that bad by comparison.