Behind the Curtain: How we shot the 'Smashing Pumpkins'

  •   Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Daily Herald photo editor Rick West.

    Daily Herald photo editor Rick West.

Updated 6/2/2019 10:45 PM

We affectionately call this photo of Edward Maciejczyk of Palatine "Smashing Pumpkins," and you no doubt can understand where we came up with the title. Earlier this year, it won a first-place award for 2018 General News Photography from the Illinois Press Association. Let me tell you how it came about.

We were invited by Medieval Times in Schaumburg to cover a charity event the facility was hosting. Their weapon-wielding knights were going to smash several hundred leftover Halloween pumpkins and make a donation to charity for each one.


We went partly because as a paper, we try to support good causes. But we also thought this had the makings of a good photo. Once I got there, I surveyed the possibilities. Since most of the smashing was happening with swords and pumpkins lower to the ground, the midair destruction seemed the best choice.

With the action happening higher, we needed to find a background that was both clean and would not distract the eye, but would hopefully add something to the composition other than the gray sky.

After working that out, exposure was next. In this case, I needed a high shutter speed to catch the exploding pumpkin and fast-moving bolo while using a wide aperture to blur the background.

All those choices made, the next step was to shoot and to keep shooting until they stopped lobbing pumpkins at Edward. In this case, that was about five pumpkins later.

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