To be successful, a fashion photographer must be an exceptional problem solver. As with most professions, to be at the top means one must roll with the punches and become a creative problem solver, overcoming obstacles both seen and unseen. We have learned that this is no longer no mans land and that our clients and team expect this quality from us.
Being a professional means you can consistently create an exceptional result, in any condition – not only when conditions are exceptional. We must shoot, sometimes, when we are feeling less than artistic.
Many times, whether on location or studio, problems must be expected. I know what you are thinking, “what a negative thought process”. I would think that too except I have been a professional photographer for more than two decades and I can tell you, either you are prepared or you are not.
Many of my clients come to me and ask me about why I brought so much equipment or why we didn’t use a certain piece of equipment. Just like I have many lenses and camera bodies I have modifiers, scrims, reflectors and an entire myriad of stands and configurations. Most of these are not for use in optimal conditions; quite the contrary. In Florida, as well as many places I seem to shoot, inclement weather can pop up at a moment’s notice. Also sun can end up not being where I want it or the intensity not what I need for a certain shot. Theses are the circumstances you must prepare for. As the leader of the team you are expected to solve all of life’s little problems.
Do you have some hairpins, duct tape, 2 sided tape, clamps of all shapes and sizes, Velcro, extra swimsuits, etc.? There really is no telling what can and will happen on a shoot. If you don’t cover it you better make sure someone else will. Much of the well being of the shoot depends on your team and talent feeling great and that you are in control makes everyone feel warm fuzzies. This is one reason I try to find out what everyone likes to drink. Even something that small can make someone really feel like you care and in return they will give you their best.
The other day, I was on a remote location in Key Biscayne and my model had to be up against this banyan tree, which was infested with bull ants. Well I didn’t have any repellent but my makeup artist did! It takes a team, a trusted team, to make things happen and everyone must go beyond their expected duties to be prepared. I call this professionalism and this all goes into the final product of these types of shoots.
The following day, we had another amazing day in Key Biscayne. This day ended up being one of the hottest and most miserable days I have ever been on location. I was sweating so much that I feared changing lenses for the sweat getting into the camera body. My makeup artist and myself, as well as the crew and models had to make adjustments in our normal protocol to successfully negotiate the obstacles at hand. The heat was unbearable, sandspurs and ants, painful, and the tide was exceptionally high but we made it work.
Make certain that your team and you have collaborated before and you all know each other’s propensities, shortcomings, and idiosyncrasies. It makes the shoot go smoothly and gives you the best chances for a magical result.