The amount of PRESSURE a photographer puts on themselves in this sort of situation is intense. Months ago, when I got the call to shoot ten to twenty students dressed in their Sunday best over a two hour period I thought, “Why not? This will be fun… right?”
Now, while I was saving costs by not paying for a hair and make up artist, the other stresses were building up quick. Was I in over my head?
Challenge 1.) I was capturing a particularly important moment in these kids lives; they only graduate once.
Challenge 2.) These photos are likely going to sit on a mantel or wall for half a lifetime so they better look good and timeless.
Challenge 3.) I only have a few minutes to focus on each student. 10 students allows for 12 minutes per student to get some great photos. 20 students, I only get 6. So I better bring your A-Game! Luckily We’ve shot the Sparks conference for three years and have lots of practice in lightning fast shoots.
Challenge 4.) Pre scout the location, (if I can!) in this case I was out of town and could only access google maps to get an idea of my location. Out of town, lots of trees. Okay, idea’s are forming.
“Keep calm, you’ve got this.” I tell myself, “A lesser photographer would crumble under the pressure, but you’re gonna turn these challenges into unique advantages… Right?” I’d better plan some counter measures.
Solution 1.) Get a second photographer/assistant. This potentially allows me to double the amount of camera time each student would have. Great! The only problem being, the rest of our staff was tied up shooting a rodeo that weekend. Busy times, hallelujah! Fortunately one employee was willing to give up some of his booked time off to assist! A god send, perfection, and I have a back up in case I get the plague as well.
Solution 2.) Hit up the old Pinterest boards. Make sure I have at least five go to shots for solo poses, five for couples, and five for families/groups. The rest I can make up as we go. When you only have a couple minutes to get your subjects comfortable in front of your lens you have no time to monkey around with posing.
Solution 3.) Pray the weather is nice! Ensure that all my equipment is packed the night before and CHARGED! “You don’t want to be flustered running out the door or cause yourself to be late. That will throw everything off.” I remind myself as I clear my memory cards.
So what went right, and what went not so right?
I picked up our second photographer and got to the shoot on time. Great start! We met the students, only twelve, “few, we’ve bought some time.”
We scouted the area, lots of open space, thats great except for the fact that its mid day and the sun is blasting directly overhead! Even with a reflector to bounce light the students will have raccoon eyes, blown out highlights and harsh shadows. Time to find some shade. We only have about TEN MINUTES to find the best set ups and start shooting. An arching tree, perfect, lets do it! We decide it’s best to stick together on the shoot rather than divide and conquer, strength in numbers, right?
We get our first subject in front of the camera. The first is always the hardest. I know I have a warm up period before my creative juices will start flowing, so I gotta fight through the first chunk. “Stick to the basics,” I tell myself, “Use the force! Or your pinterest board.” I look to my second, he looks back at me, he’s in the same predicament.
CLICK…. CLICK CLICK… CLICK CLICK CLICK!
We pushed through the first shoot and got some pretty good shots. Things are getting easier. A few clicks later and we’ve powered through everyone. We still have forty minutes to spare. Excellent, lets play now!
This is where shoots get fun. When you’ve accomplished your main goals and now you can experiment and make mistakes. So we ran to each corner of the yard getting to know our subjects even better, discovering they have a similarity twisted sense of humour to us, and each one was willing to try all of our hair brained ideas in front of the camera. All in all, it was one of the funnest shoots we’ve had to date.
Now editing was another challenge, turns out we shot over 1200 photos! Uh oh. Over a couple hours I narrowed it down to 360 keepers… still too many. Bam, a couple hundred hard decisions later and I had it down to 160 and the edits could begin.
…And here is the fruits of our labour. (Just a few of our favourites and some behind the lens shots)
Post by: Jesse McCallum - Eagle Vision Video Productions ltd.