By G Bruce Grayson | EIVisuals.com
June 4th, 2021
Typical Photo Shoot Situation: Not enough time to Prep for the next job.
You get a call from one of your higher volume clients and they need you on site for a photo shoot in the next 2hrs. The problem is, the day before, you just came from a 5 hour photo shoot where there was no access to any electrical outlets. For the entire shoot, you were using batteries to run your cameras, lighting, remote flash and mics, (etc...).
The client site is 30mins away and you still have to backup/upload all your data from the previous job, verify that all data has been uploaded, (depending on the amount of data) this could take at the very least 10 to 20mins. No stress here though.
Once the data has been secured, perform a systems and equipment check to make sure you have what you need from the previous job which should take about 10mins since you just used it the day before.
That leaves the largest and most important preparation of all, charging of the batteries. Depending on what type of batteries you have and how many, this could take, 1 hour or more. If you will be charging batteries for lighting, then more then 1 hour will be needed.
By this time, the time needed to take care of these tasks in the prior scenario, far exceed the 2hrs time needed for you to be on site for your client shoot. (Not factoring in any possible traffic issues.) This could potentially damage your relationship with that client.
A few solutions;
The batteries that need charging were not fully drained and can be recharged in time for you to make the appointment. - Risky
You have enough spare batteries that will get you through the entire shoot. - Okay
You’re in luck and found out that the entire project is in doors and plenty of access to outlets. - Better
All of these possibilities are adequate but still leave you exposed if one or more are not available to you. There is a process that I’ve made a practice, as much as possible, to perform when ever I finish with a shoot. What is it? To perform these tasks the moment I get back home or to the office.
I know what your thinking, “I’m tired”, “I just got back and it’s late”, “I’ll do it tomorrow” but all of these can lead to you not following through the more that time passes by. And if or when that call comes in, you will wish you had followed through when you had the chance.
The Solution: Make Time - Prep equipment as soon as the last job is completed.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to perform. And like an athlete who endures the training needed to be able to compete at a high level or the musician who continuously practices to make sure that they hit every note, you will need to train your self to prepare for the next shoot (regardless of when it takes place) immediately after you’ve completed the job you just performed.
It sounds simple, but it’s not. Note, this is not only for photo shoots but anything that may require you to have a certain amount of preparation before the next task to ensure equipment integrity.
In the fall, I shoot high school and pee-wee football games on the weekend. The 1st games are typically on Friday nights followed up by the Saturday morning/afternoon games. Right after I get home from the Friday night games (sometimes as late as 10/11pm) I start uploading the data to the hard drive, charging all batteries, take inventory of all gear (also prior to leaving the site) when I get home, and prep for the Saturday’s games. It’s not easy in the best of conditions, let alone on the not so occasional, 90degs down to 24degs temp days, downpours and traffic jams.
There are no outlets at football fields that I can readily use nor would I have time if there were. Before I attend any game, all batteries, mics, lights, (etc…) will have been charged, memory cards scrubbed to get maximum use, the GPS directions plugged in and programmed (unfamiliar with a new location can cost time), having my wallet and car keys ready and finally a checklist to make sure that I have all the equipment and gear needed for the particular task.
Again, it sounds simple and it applies to other types of jobs too. When you’re tired or may have something else you wanted to do or attend, the last thing on your mind may be prepping for a potential upcoming shoot or one scheduled days way.
However, just like that athlete that trains, that musician who constantly practices, you’ll just have to make it a practice to make sure after every job that your equipment and gear will and can be ready at a moment's notice.
To help you with this task, one tool that I use which helps me stay prepared for the next shoot is listed below. Feel free to modify it for your specific job/task/chore.
The Tools: Equipment and Task Checklist
Post shoot check list
□ Inventory equipment to make sure nothing is missing
□ Make sure all lenses have there covers attached on both ends
□ Make sure the camera cover is secure once the lenses have been removed (if applicable)
□ Clean out any dust/dirt from the carry bag
□ Upload all data from memory cards onto backup systems (hard drive, cloud, server, etc…)
□ Do not delete data until you have assured that it has been backed up and protected
□ Place batteries into their chargers
□ Scrub memory cards (or use other blank memory cards until assured all data has been secured)
□ Once these have been done, stage gear and equipment for use
Pre shoot check list
□ Inventory equipment check (batteries, memory, cords, mics, etc...)
□ Minimal operational gear check (on/off, take minimal shots, video, etc…)
□ Are there electrical outlets?
□ Client address and contact info
□ Wallet and keys ready
□ Automobile has enough gas / charge
□ Plan drive time, for the least amount of traffic possible.
□ Weather conditions check
□ Note: This list is not comprehensive but a tool to help you get into the habit of making sure that your are ready to go no matter how little time you have to be on a job site.