Being Prepared v. Being In The Moment

Last week, we travelled to Austin to photograph a client as a 60th birthday gift. Even though it was a non-paying job, we like to be prepared as if it were of the paying variety. We believe it keeps us on our toes and fights off the urge to become — how do we put it? — lackadaisical.

So, prep included research on the locations where the client wanted to shoot, some rough storyboards, and packing all the gear we anticipated even the remotest possibility of needing. If you are a shooter, you know what I’m talking about. It gets pretty intense out there, far away from the studio and all the resources we might normally have at our fingertips. Who knows what might come up?

However. . . in the moment, things don’t seem to seem to be quite as exigent as they do in the planning stage. Carrying a boatload of gear while concentrating on how to light, compose, and shoot a subject to best capture her tender personality seems, at best, a bit contradictory. Particularly when the location frowns upon the use of said boatload as it might detract from other visitors' experience. So, the boatload becomes a dinghy, if not a raft.

The point is, in the moment, getting the shot means doing it as simply as possible with little more than just the camera, lens, and a single “voice-activated” lighting unit (or assistant, for short). Okay, we did go to the car for a reflector for fill. But moving quickly, leaving a small footprint, capturing the essence of the subject, these are the things that matter, not having access to every piece of gear we own.

As it turns out, we captured more successful images than we thought possible by keeping it simple. It’s something to think about.

— Lawrence Standifer Stevens