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How I Became a Professional Photographer and What I Saw Along the Way: Super Size Me

May 7, 2014

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January, 2003: Morgan Spurlock is examined by his cardiologist prior to embarking on a 30-day McDonalds diet in the documentary film Super Size Me.

Ten years ago today, the film Super Size Me, directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, was widely released in theaters here in the United States. The movie documented Spurlock’s 30 day diet of eating exclusively McDonald’s food, during which he gained nearly 25 lbs. Super Size Me quickly grew popular, climbing the charts to second highest grossing documentary of all time (behind Bowling for Columbine), and received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. Six weeks after it premiered, McDonalds discontinued its Super Size option, although denied it had anything to do with the film’s success.

How did I get involved with the film so early in my career? Back in late 2002 when Spurlock was preparing to shoot Super Size Me, he contacted his alma mater, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (where I was a sophomore at the time), in search of talented photographers who could shadow him alongside the film crew. It was to be a small-time documentary, perhaps making it to a few independent theaters or cable TV. I had never heard of Spurlock, whose biggest commercial success to date was the short-lived MTV show, I Bet You Will. Portfolio in hand, I met with him for an interview. Shortly after, he hired me along with two classmates to be the film’s official photographers. Incidentally, it would be the last paid job I’d shoot exclusively with film, as I’d switch to 100% digital the following year.

Being part of such a wildly popular project was a rewarding experience for a “wet behind the ears” 21-year-old me. Seeing my name scrolling by in the movie credits was a thrill, and my heart just about stopped when the New York Times published multiple photos of mine in their review of the film, my first byline in the iconic newspaper. It feels like so long ago!

In reminiscing about my days shooting for the film, I dug up some old scans of my favorite photos, many of which have never been seen by the public.


Spurlock doing mock “before and after” poses at his gastroenterologist’s office prior to the start of his diet. GIFs were super un-cool when this movie came out, having traumatized the masses with their overuse in 90’s era website design, but their recent renaissance inspired me to create this one.

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Day 1, breakfast!

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Day 1, lunch!

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A mid-diet weigh-in.

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Day 30, the last meal!

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This is the 10th post in my series, How I Became a Professional Photographer and What I Saw Along the Way. Notice how it’s been over two years since my previous entry? Chalk it up to the birth of my son Judah in early 2012 and the subsequent round-the-clock child-rearing that followed! Good thing I got all that writing in back while I had the time. I hope you will find the time to read these and perhaps learn something along the way :)


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One Comment leave one →
  1. Shira permalink
    May 7, 2014 8:39 am

    So glad the series is back! So much has happened in 10 years!

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