When I am shooting a fashion assignment I am disciplined to the point where I only shoot the amount of images I feel I need to capture my vision or the client’s vision. There is absolutely no reason to shoot until you fill a card, which these days could mean 400 or more images per card. I’ve heard of some photographers who will shoot a thousand images for a portfolio shoot! That is pathetic! You know what that translates to? A VERY insecure photographer who has no idea what he or she is doing and has no vision. The photographer doesn’t have a plan, can’t see his vision unless he shoots it. Doesn’t know his technical skills or communication skills. It could be any of these or all of them that is causing this long drawn out shoot as a result from over shooting.
I used to work in the movie industry behind the camera. On episodes where we had an inexperienced director we knew the days were going to go in to overtime which was good in a way because more often than not we would go into triple over time……..big paychecks. But for the production company that meant over budget and the main reason was because the director would over shoot by thousands and thousands of feet of film, which also led to the obvious major over time for the crew ! It’s no different for a still photo shoot.
Many photographers are shocked when I tell them the size of my CF card I use most often is 2 GB. That’s because with my 5DMark 2 shooting at 100ISO I get about 72 – 76 frames which gives me two different clothing changes. When I was shooting 35mm film we got 36 frames per roll. At the end of that roll you had to reload. Now let me also say that if I am shooting an editorial or an ad campaign I use the same small cards and also have much larger ones on hand just in case the client wants to see more.
For this post I will use a portfolio shoot as the main example. So a model would come to me and back then we charged per roll. And one roll equaled one look. After the first look / 36 frames we moved to the second look and so on. If you as a photographer couldn’t capture that great one shot the model needed in 36 frames you had to use another roll at your own expense! You couldn’t tell the model she had to pay extra because she was paying per roll and it was just expected that you got the shot after one roll. Everyone worked that way. All photographers worked this way. If she bought a 3-roll shoot that meant we shot 3 looks and no more. If at the end she wanted an extra look she had to pay my fee for an extra roll. It was that simple! So someone please tell me why it should be any different now that we are shooting digital. Just because we have the technology to shoot a thousand frames for a portfolio shoot does not mean we should. Who wants to sit at the computer all day and night editing out the bad shots? I sure don’t. My place is behind the camera, NOT in front of a computer. Sure there are certain little things I need to do in the computer, however, I wanna be shooting more of the time than sitting at the computer.
I personally feel that many many many photographers of this new generation have not only lost discipline, they haven’t even learned it! If the shot doesn’t look right then don’t hit the shutter button! Simple! If the model isn’t giving you what you want, then you stop, pull her aside and have a short heart to heart just like a catcher does with his pitcher in a baseball game. The catcher doesn’t let his pitcher just keep throwing pitch after pitch with the same or worse results. Do you see the comparison? You don’t just keep shooting and hoping for the model to read your mind as she gets more tired and frustrated. You use your people skills that you are supposed to possess and constantly fine tune just as you are constantly fine-tuning your photography skills.
By the way this is also good practice for when you do shoot that ad campaign and HOPEFULLY the client, art director, creative director are not all sitting around getting bored, frustrated and wishing they hadn’t hired you because they’ve realized that each image they saw in your portfolio came about from shoots like this where you had to shoot thousands of images to get a few usable ones! Portfolio shoots and creative tests are great for training your eye and fine tuning your skills for that day when you do get that big ad campaign and you run your set like a five star general with confidence pouring out of your ears and you are directing your model or models and shooting efficiently, shooting only the amount of images you need because you KNOW when you have gotten that shot you need to satisfy your client.
I had a model friend who told me that for a large ad campaign he was shot by Horst P Horst. All the lighting was done, set dressing, make up etc. it was time to shoot. The model gets on his mark, strikes a pose, Horst shoots two frames and says “That’s a wrap!” And everyone started to wrap as usual thinking nothing more. That’s because Horst was confident, the client knew it and trusted him. If Horst says he got it, then he got it. In the end no one knows how many or how few shots it took to get that campaign shot. In the end what matters is if you kept your shoot on budget, didn’t stress the model, pleased the client and have a fun relaxed shoot. This can only happen when you are a disciplined photographer, who does not over shoot, spray and pray and lose control.
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