What started from a high school injury has turned into an early profession for photographer Griffin Harrington, a junior at JMU. Multiple internships, teaching a class, and managing his own freelance company are just some of the jobs he has under his wing. Read on to find out more about Harrington’s work and passion for photography.
Name: Griffin Harrington
Major: Studio Media Arts and Design (SMAD) with a Digital Video and Cinema concentration
Hometown: Herndon, VA
Graduation Year: 2015
Q: When did you start getting into photography?
It’s kind of a long story, but in high school I played basketball and got two big concussions that made me drop the team. I still wanted to be a part of that group of guys, so I tried being manager, videographer…it didn’t work out. Then I started taking pictures and putting them on Facebook. The guys loved it, and I just shot every basketball [game] after that. It kind of took off from there. I won a couple photo awards early in high school, which gave me this idea that I might actually be pretty good at this. So I just put all my energy into it from then on.
Q: You taught a class at JMU last semester. Can you tell me about that?
I taught a one credit class called Mobile Photography. I did it to teach the basics of photography through the lens of a smartphone. It’s the only class I’ve ever heard of where your phone is required. People use their smartphone camera more than their normal camera (if they even have one). So I thought the class would be really relevant to people’s everyday lives. Hopefully all my students have better Instagram accounts now. I had a lot of friends take my class, so it was weird at first to “grade” them, but it was a really great experience.
Q: What kind of events do you photograph for JMU?
I’ve been shooting for the athletic department for two and a half years now (I got my job with them two hours after I moved in freshman year. I hit the ground running!). I usually shoot at least one sporting event of each Varsity sport, but I mainly shoot all the football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball/softball games for JMUSports.com. When the teams go to the NCAA tournament, I sometimes travel with them to shoot those, too.
Q: You recently filmed a music video for the BluesTones a capella group. What was that like?
That was just a fun pet project for me. I shot it with the help of a good buddy of mine, Sam Post. I love the BluesTones and their sound, so I offered to make a music video for them. The girls in it are awesome. I also directed a flash mob the BluesTones did in Carrier last semester. The flash mob was one of my favorite memories from my time at JMU. They broke out in song in a packed Starbucks, and everything stopped. Everyone listened. Everyone loved it. It went exactly as planned.
You can watch the video here.
Q: Do you do any work outside of school?
I do a lot outside of school. I think real world experience is so much more important than anything you can learn in a classroom. I’m an intern at the Discovery channel this semester up in Silver Spring, MD. I run my own freelance photo/video company, under my name, through my website www.GriffinHarrington.com. I was the Wolf Trap Foundation’s photographer this past summer, and I hope to do some more work for them this summer. I shoot weddings on weekends and in summers to pay for my school and rent.
[It] keeps me pretty busy. I’m starting to shoot and direct some short documentaries. This spring break I’m going to San Francisco to make a documentary about JMU entrepreneurs out there, and why future entrepreneurs should come to JMU.
Q: Have you had any other internships?
Wolf Trap was an internship. I also interned for Congressman Ed Perlmutter on Capitol Hill and for Getty Images sport photography department in NYC.
Q: When did you start getting into film?
I’ve always loved filming stuff. I used to make terrible action movies with my little brother for fun. Once I started getting into photography, [filming] just kind of worked together [with it].
Q: You have quite the résumé at such a young age. Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you want to do?
There is so much! I want to do a portrait shoot of Michael Jordan… shoot the Super Bowl… shoot a blockbuster movie…. hire real employees for my company… I mean the list can just go on and on. I always think about that stuff. I let myself dream big. Because who knows…. it might actually happen.
It’s crazy to me that just last year I got to sit down with Macklemore and take pictures of him, and now he just won a freaking Grammy! I don’t know. It’s just so awesome.
Q: What inspires you?
My dad’s a big inspiration. He’s also in the creative/media world, and he works his ass off. He keeps me honest, and he’s my rock. I also just really honestly love doing it. I take pictures of everything. I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just something I do.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I used to live and die by the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it”. But I’ve found some negative connotations to that.
A couple months ago, a JMU alumni and former Sports Illustrated photographer Bob Leverone told me that [with] this generation, people in their very early 20’s will change media creation because we grew up shooting video and taking pictures. You used to have to choose one or the other. So it’s not really a specific line of advice that inspires me, but the idea that someone my age will have changed how media is created in the future inspires me. “Why not you?” I guess would be the best way to say that.
All images courtesy of Griffin Harrington and www.GriffinHarrington.com.