TIME Taps Austin

Austin photographer snags biggest gig in photojournalism with TIME Person of the Year cover

Austin photographer snags biggest gig with TIME Person of the Year

Time Magazine person of the year cover
Local photographer Bryan Schutmaat scores big with TIME's Person of the Year cover. Photo by Bryan Schutmaat/ TIME Magazine

Arguably the most discussed — and often controversial — media moment of the year, TIME's Person of the Year was revealed Wednesday. Here in Austin, it won't be who is on the cover (The Ebola Fighters) but who photographed the cover that may be most interesting.

 When he received the assignment, Schutmaat had no idea it would be a part of the magazine's most important issue.  

This year, TIME tapped local photographer Bryan Schutmaat to shoot Dr. Kent Brantley, a Ft. Worth physician and the first American diagnosed with Ebola. Part of a series of five images for the cover, Schutmaat traveled north to document the famous doctor. "I met [Brantley] at his church in Fort Worth. TIME’s photo editors and I felt that since he was a man of faith and since he was guided by that faith, it would be good to photograph him in there," Schutmaat said in an interview with TIME

When he received the assignment, Schutmaat had no idea it would be a part of the magazine's most important issue. "I just thought I was doing a big story on Ebola that would end up somewhere inside the magazine,” Schutmaat told TIME. “I didn’t think it would be such a huge deal.”

Indeed, it is hard to imagine a moment in photojournalism as "huge" as landing the Person of the Year cover. Schutmaat and Dublin-based photographer Jackie Nickerson were commissioned to do more than 20 portraits in locations around the world.

As the photographers worked around the globe, they were unaware that they were creating photos for People of the Year story. It wasn't until TIME photo editors asked for the final high-resolution images that the photographers were filled in — and promptly sworn to secrecy. 

But the secret is now out, and Schutmaat took to Facebook to tell friends and fans the good news. "I'm still reeling from the fact that I was given this assignment," the photographer said. 

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Read a recent interview Schutmaat did with CultureMap hereTo find out more about TIME's People of the Year issue, head here