Never leave a shoot without at least one shot that makes you proud.

One of the differences between photography as a profession -vs- photography as a passion is that as a professional photographer you must meet your client’s needs. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t satisfy your own in the process.

Some magazine assignments can be very open-ended, others read like a shopping list. You always have to photograph what’s on the list, but you shouldn’t overlook a great shot just because the magazine didn’t think to ask for it.

My Sports Illustrated assignment of boxer Christy Martin read like an endless shopping list of shots. We started early in the day and had knocked out the 16th and final shot late that afternoon and everyone was beat. I looked over the list and knew that I done every shot they asked me to shoot but something was missing.

I’d shopped for groceries – but I hadn’t made a meal.

I told Christy I had an idea for one final photo and she shot me a look like, “You do know I get paid to knock people out.”

Yet she agreed to do one more shot as long as I made it quick.

I pulled out my 45, placed a single Profoto flash head on a boom directly overhead to mimic the tungsten spotlights you’d see at a fight, and taped a full CTO warming gel over the reflector. I shot just four frames of 45 and sent Christy on her way. When I shipped the take to my editor at Sports Illustrated, I made certain those four frames were on top.

A week later I got a call from my editor. “Congratulations, you got the cover,” then he continued, “and it wasn’t even one of the shots we asked for.”

Always shoot one for yourself because there’s often more to the story than just what’s on your shot list. Those four extra sheets of film got me a Sports Illustrated cover I wouldn’t have had if I’d done only what was asked.