This is a little bit of a lesson for any photographers who are just starting out…
So yesterday I organized a shoot with a friend of mine. This shoot was planed as a Glamour/Fashion shoot, lots of nice dresses, simple backgrounds, nice lighting set up and a prop or two. Nothing majorly difficult right?
Yeah i thought so too.
So my day started at 8.30am, the shoot was scheduled for 11.30am so i gave myself plenty of time to set up and test everything so the shoot would be quick and easy. When I shoot in a studio setup, i usually use my dad’s shed which is a large area split into three. I usually take the center area, which is the biggest and mostly only has a lawnmower to move out of the way. At the moment the center area is being used… no worries, I’ll just move our jet skis out of the way and use the right side. The right side is a more compressed area, making some of the lighting a little trickier than usual but hey, it worked.
Once the skis were out of the way i began setting up… the shed, as you’d assume, is made of tin. Yesterday got to just shy of 40degrees… in a shed that sucks! (Put it this way, I left an ice cold bottle of water in my car, by the end of the shoot I could have made coffee with it). Needless to say, this made moving lights, the props (a chaise lounge, a lamp and side table) and jet skis around was pretty exhausting… but hey, eat some concrete and harden up right? haha
The background (a grey paper and standard background stand) was all set up and my little helper (my dog Rocky) decides this is where he’d like to sit. He does this almost every time I do a studio shoot, and usually, on a fabric background, I don’t care. But this is a brand new background, literally just taken out of the box and I’ve got a chocolate lab with dirty paws making tracks on it. So I call him off… not realizing that he was walking on the corner between the ground and the stand. *TEAR*
To recap, it’s 40degrees outside, I’m in a tin shed with a torn background, lights still in their cases waiting to be set up, and a crying dog… and this is only about 30 minutes into set up. So I gave Rocky a hug and told him “it’s ok mate, but you’re not allowed in here for the rest of the day”, used the magic tool (duct tape) to “fix” the background, got a fan going and pressed on.
Just off to the side of my newly set up background area, my dad’s cherry red Ducati motor bike was just poking in. At the moment, the bike has a battery charger plugged into it, so I couldn’t move it too far away from the power supply. I’m moving it, being careful not to drop the charger… not really noticing that the cord for it has gone under the bike and knocked the kickstand out from under it. As I let the bike down, it got away from me and fell onto the table right next to it… yay. Luckily, only a small scratch and some grazing but still a fun time ahead calling dad to tell him while he’s away.
After a quick phone call to the parents to say “hi, hows the gold coast? by the way… i dropped your bike” I started setting up the my lighting. Now before you try and get ahead of my story, no, the lights did not fall and break… i mean, they didn’t fall AND break. At one point, one of the stands gave way and had a small fall, but luckily nothing was broken.
Next up was setting up my trigger system, this is not a hard thing to do… until one of your transceivers decides to die… not the batteries, the actual transceiver. The one that decided not to work was meant to fire a speed light inside a lamp, so luckily (a word a seem to us alot to describe this shoot) it was not firing a main light. After some playing around with an LED light, I made a substitution and, once again, pressed on.
Now, all set up, my friend and her husband arrive ready to shoot. Thankfully, aside from the uncomfortable heat, there were no real issues with the shoot. The only thing made difficult was moving certain lights around in the more confined space. After a “fun” morning of set up, the shoot took around an hour and half and we got some shots that I’m Pretty happy with.
So what is the lesson I mentioned before?
Always give yourself time to set up.
I understand that sometimes this is easier said than done but where possible, always plan to set up with more time than you need. This is due to the simple fact that things can, and will go wrong and the more time you have, the better the odds that you can make adjustments and fix any issues that you have.