Monday, August 31, 2009
I had lunch yesterday with an old friend of mine who remarked that "Things change when you can see the end". He was referring to the fact that he wants to work less and enjoy his life more. He, like me, is 57 years old. It is true. Even at, say 49, life looked different to me. Increasingly, every minute is important. More and more I look at my stock photo career and ask myself how I can use it to not just make money, but to enjoy my life. A good example can be seen in a stock shoot I did in Buenos Aires.
I arranged to go with two friends of mine, Dew Kelly and Sam Diephuis. Both are excellent shooters and often work with me to produce stock photos for Blend Images. This was a ten day trip to produce stock photography and produce it in a way that we could also really enjoy the experience.
After committing to the shoot the first thing we did was to look for some locations for our shoot. We settled on three primary locations knowing that once we were there we could fill in other locations and shoots as needed. The first of our locations was found via the Internet, www.apartments BA.com. We found a luxury Apartment on one of the top floors of the second highest building in Buenos Aires. It has 360 degree views of the city and a clean, modern look. The apartment easily accommodated the three of us, and we were able to stay there as well as shoot there. Even at $600.00 per night it was a bargain. What we saved over the location fee of a comparable place in the U.S. more than paid for our travel expenses! We shot stills and video. Sam shot a panorama video from the roof of the building and that footage, while only having sold twice so far, pretty much paid for the cost of renting the location.
The apartment provided for both upscale lifestyle shots and business shots (the dining room also passed for a corporate boardroom). We shot party scenes, people with their dogs, romantic couples, domestic chores, home exercise and much more. I was able to wake up in the morning to breath taking views and to begin shooting without schlepping equipment. We could dine out or cook our own meals. Actually, we had so much "shoot" food that we couldn't eat all of it. But hey, we had a refrigerator and freezer to store it in. We had a washer and dryer, rooftop access and grounds to enjoy. Not a bad way to conduct a stock shoot!
We rented a smaller, but still nice apartment, for the remainder of the shoot. Our shoots (put together with the help of our Argentinian producer Paula Zacharias) included a gym (shooting a gymnast doing his routine in a business suit), a theater (where we staged a rock concert, a bodybuilding contest, a political debate and also shot audience reactions), and a soccer shoot in which we hired a local semi-pro team. We had an awesome time and came back with tons of great content including ethnically diverse lifestyle, Business, and concept images.
An important thing to remember for these kinds of shoots, is to get property and model releases upfront. This trip went smoothly in that regard, but I have had some unpleasant surprises when I have failed to take the “upfront” precautions. Another important thing is to look closely at every model release before the model leaves. On the whole, models do a terrible job of filling out releases (they also do a terrible job of bringing their own wardrobe...but that is another story). When shooting in situations like these I also tend to hire extra models. The expense of one or two models is small compared to having everything set up and ready to roll, and then not having enough models. It is always a good idea to allow for the "model flake factor" (no offense to the many models who are professional, prompt and thorough).
Also, when in foreign countries it is important to understand the cultural differences around time and commitment. I have shot in Argentina many times and have finally gotten use to my producer calling up models at 1:00 in the morning for a shoot that day! Come to think of it, maybe the most important thing to remember when shooting in far off places is to bring you best attitude. I always try to keep in mind that if a shoot just isn’t working, for whatever reason, it won’t be the end of the world, and every minute I spend in unhappiness over it is a minute I will never get back.