Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Last Boy Scout

And a Shot out of the Blue.......

It is often forgotten by our clients (and the general public) that most of the work of an event photographer ( or any pro photographer for that matter) takes place behind the scenes and before even a single trip of a shutter. For us good preparation is key to good photography.......

Last week,  out of the blue, I received a phone call from fellow events photographer, Lee Marshall. Lee runs a small but very successful events photography company called photoREVERIE, where he has over the last ten years built up a rather good reputation of taking pictures of sport cars, often going very quickly around the various motor racing circuits  now dotted throughout the UK.  He was looking for a photographer to cover a last minute job at Brands Hatch and I (like always) jumped at the chance to help out a mate and so set in motion a series of events which have inevitability brought me here, writing this blog...About what happened next!

Who, What, Why, When, Where and How?

There is one thing that press and events photography share, if you want to do either of them well, you had better make like a boy scout and come "prepared". Good, reliable and up to date intelligence is more important than anything else in an photographers arsenal. The better the information you have about an upcoming  assignment,  the better the outcomes for both meeting and exceeding your clients expectations and coming away with some great pictures. Alas, bitter experience has taught me that this is always best done and agreed in writing (and if I had my way, written in blood). My rule: assume nothing, record everything and always cover your back. This rule applies to ALL jobs, irrespective of their nature. I was taught from a pup to always ask questions and if people feel reluctant with supplying me with the relevant answers, for whatever reason, then I back off and back off quickly because there lies a world of pain in NOT knowing what you're getting yourself into. So that very afternoon, after a long telephone conversation with Lee, I get a e-mail detailing the precise nature of the job, along with an full itinerary of the days events or should I have said, next days event which left me the best part of a night to prepare for a early drive to Brands Hatch in the morning.....

The Best Laid Plans....

Sharon was way, way more than just a wife. She was my PA and she organised my professional life, so losing her has left a massive hole. Worse still, I've always hated  being organised ( it's not in my nature) and I had unorganised  kit lying all over the place. Inevitably this free spirit has gotten me into trouble, like the time I turned up at a Photo Booth gig, without the touchscreen! So in a small effort in getting my sh@t together, earlier this year, I decided to adopt the "grab and dash" technique of dividing my kit into separate job specific pods which I arranged to be self contained within their own kit bags. Currently, I have three "pods". One for "in-door events", a second for "sports & outdoor events" and a third for the Photo Booth. Sometimes a piece of kit will migrate from one kit bag to another, such as my Canon 50D, which I use both in my "events" bag and as backup to my two Canon 450D's in my Photo Booth. And there have been other times where I have had to make up an entire pod using elements from all three bags to meet the demands of a specific job. Anyway, at the end of the day, this means I no longer have to take everything to every job. It also often makes for lighter more manageable kit bags and less risk of back ache. 

So now I have a list of what I carry in each bag on my mobile and PDA which is a great help for when it comes to putting everything back together again. It was Ian Griffiths who first introduced me to a way of recording my outgoing equipment and attaching a print of it to the "brief". It's a handy way of reminding yourself of what you've got and what else you may need to complete "the brief" (which reminds me, I've got to make up my own word document instead of endlessly photocopying Ian's). So now, I try not to leave home without three important pieces of paper in my hand.....

1. The Brief: which provides general details of the nature of the job, including prime contact and contact numbers. This should also provide information of any deadlines and how the client wants final delivery of the finished product. CD, DVD, FTP or dropbox, it's all part and parcel of what the average event photographer does.

2. The Itinerary: which should provide the specific timings and locations of the event. It should also provide a comprehensive description of exactly what is happening during the course of the event.

3. The Equipment Itinerary: As regards the equipment I have chosen (based on the information harvested from both the brief and the itinerary) to take with me to cover the event.

In the case of Lee's last minute job and according to his brief, the grab n dash bag of choice was to be my "sports pod" which included my find of the century, the Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 " prize giving" short telephoto lens. but more about this lens later. The first thing on my "things to do list" was to power up and recharge all of my batteries, which included my Godox external power pack. (Note to self, must see if I can source one of those dual chargers that Canon used to supply with their 10D and 20D camera's so many moons ago). 

Small, light and perfectly formed. The Tamron 17-50mm

Today's bag of tricks which included:
1.Canon 1DMk3 Body
2.Canon 7D Body
3. Canon 70-200 L F2.8
4. Tamron 17-50mm
5. Sigma 1.5 Lens Extender
6. Canon 560EX Flashgun
7. Godox External Powerpack
8. Various accessories including spare batteries.
9.  Six CF Cards of various sizes and speeds. 

Next on my list is checking that everything is where it's supposed to be and not migrated elsewhere, which sees the 1D being dug out of my "Events" kit bag and swopped with the 50D (along with it's spare LP-E4 Li-on battery pack). Then I track down a missing "Gary Fong" light dome and search high and low for one of two "Black Rapid" camera straps. No luck, can't find em. I reckon they will eventually turn up. Then my attention turns to the numerous memory cards of which I have a fair few evenly distributed across the three pods. I reformat all of the cards inside both the 1D and 7D dslr's  (forgetting about the Eye Fi card stuck in the SDHC slot of the 1D, big mistake) and repeat the process on the remaining CF cards in my Lowepro backpack. Last but not least I pack away my Macbook Pro along with a Lexar Dual CF/SD card reader and I'm ready to go. But try as I might, I just can't find the straps so when morning comes,  I'm forced to leave them behind and go without. Not so happy start to the day........

You will note from the above photo that I transport most of my gear within neoprene sleeves & pounches while in transit within the bag. They provide that little extra protection to my valuable gear without compromising ease of access. They also have the added benefit of looking great. All fun and games......And it all worked out in the end. Kind of!!!! DNP printers can be a bitch when they decide NOT to work with your mac.

Shooting motorsport is hard work and takes loads of practice to get right.

PS: I did eventually locate my "Black Rapids" along with a third "dual" camera harness, which were all stuffed in the back of my fishing jacket. Panic over but only after I'd gone through an entire day, hand holding my babies.....

Since doing this job for Lee and having had a good look at my overall equipment needs, I have purchased 2 third party LP-E4 Li-on battery packs to power both my Canon 7D & 5D mk3 dslr's and I'm just about to put in an order for 4 16gb 400x UDMA (6 or 7) Compact Flash memory cards from Delkin and Transcend. Recently it has come to my attention that not all memory cards are equal, some are MORE equal than others. This goes triple when it comes to shooting sport, when what you need to stop and freeze the action, is a camera and a card that can both read and write to memory, FAST! All my slower cards will soon be moved on to lighter duties inside my events kit bag. Now I'm off to brush up my skills on "back button" auto focussing, as doing everything (metering, focussing and tripping the shutter) from a singular shutter button just isn't doing it for me anymore.......Thank goodness for YouTube!

No comments:

Post a Comment