Have Camera – Will Travel!

Posted on May 20, 2015

Being a product photographer, on location isn’t always as glamorous as it might sound and naturally a lot depends on what and where you’re shooting. Certainly there’s usually time for a laugh and great camaraderie and good, clear communication between photographer, assistants and clients all make for happy, relaxed shots and great results. But there’s never really too much spare time for anything, other than the job in hand.

Preparation usually happens ahead of time, ensuring all the necessary kit is available, ready for travel, and packed – in the car – because nobody wants to be driving round the M25 wondering if they remembered to take that bag off the roof!

Arriving at the location in good time is a must and I usually plan to get there at least an hour before start time. As soon as we can get into the location, be it a factory or location house, first job is to bring the kit in, so everything is up and running.  While my assistant is dealing with that, I generally scout and get a ‘feel’ for the place and am able to start formalising thoughts on shooting angles and lighting.

Location shooting is, and indeed should be, fast-paced. You generally have a limited time slot so you can’t let grass grow under your feet, you have to crack on and get the product into position a.s.a.p. Framing the shot and getting Art Director’s approval is the first task. Once you’ve been green-lighted, then it’s all systems go – fine-tuning the lighting set-up, working out shooting variations and then actioning it. Once a shot is finished, and the client and or Art Director has approved the work on the laptop, down comes the lighting for that particular shot and everything is set up for the next one. We like to think we work like organised greased lightning, moving through the shots and location changes, until such time as we reach the last one on the list, when we can relax, job well done.

On a nine hour shoot, we’ll often allow just thirty minutes for lunch, so by day’s end, and having packed back into the car all the essentials I started out with, I’m only too glad to mull gently over a productive day’s work and chill out in the car listening to suitably chilled music all the way home.