Photographing on location is certainly different than shooting in the studio. This becomes more evident if you favor the use of artificial light as opposed to just using available light.
When you’re in the studio, you have absolute control of light and more than likely, you have access to all of your gear in case of any last minute changes. When shooting on location, whether at a nearby site or far away from your studio, preparing for the shoot can take some extra time.
I was asked by a model friend of mine to help her update her fashion portfolio. I am based in Durham, NC and my model is now based in Atlanta, GA but visits NC often. The concept of the shoot was Fall/Winter inspired and since weather has been very nice we opted to shoot on location. Our location was set in a rural area East of Raleigh and about 40 minutes away from my studio. I had shot at the location previously so I had an idea of certain areas and decided to prepare based on that. I knew that there is plenty of wide open space where I can shoot just with natural light and there are also areas of complete shade as well as open shade areas. With this in mind, I brought my recently purchased Flashpoint 360 which I’ve been wanting to try out. It was the perfect situation to take it with me as it would give me enough power to overpower the sun if I wanted or use it as fill light if I needed it.
When we got there, we went over outfits and immediately makeup. While the model was getting ready, my assistant and I went around scouting for the locations for each outfit. This took us about 10 minutes or so. We then grabbed one light (the Flashpoint) a camera and my Neewer remote triggers. Did some light tests and everything was fine until, the transmitter that was connected to my flash fell. It did not break and it kept functioning (or so we thought). Minutes later our model was ready.
Before starting the shoot, I always like to take some light tests (particularly since I was shooting on location and the sun was now coming from a different area (we had taken this into account while scouting) and all of a sudden we realized that the flash was not working. (In case you’ve forgotten, my transmitter had fallen) Well it just so happens that the digital display was no longer functioning so I was not able to see what channel it was on. I played a bit with my triggers to see if it would work and I decided to keep it simple and use my flash on my camera.
I tested it once and everything was perfect. When I went to take a second shot, the flash wouldn’t go off. Apparently the batteries didn’t charge completely or hardly at all so I now was without batteries. But, because I had at the last minute grabbed an extra box of 4 non rechargeable AA batteries, I was now able to use my flash the way I wanted to. Because I wanted to have a softer light but still keep some contrast around the edges, I bounced my speedlite off of my circular reflector. This resulted in a successful shoot that everyone was happy with!
In conclusion: Murphy sometimes gets bored and decides to show up at the most unexpected times. How can you prepare for these situations? Here are some tips that might be useful:
- Have extra batteries for your camera and any other battery operated device. Bringing a charger will help too.
- Bring a reflector (you never know when you might need it)
- Scout the location in advance (if not local, you can use Google Maps to scout remotely)
- If you have new gear, test it before the shoot to ensure it’s working properly.
- Bring additional gear: At your discretion, bring backup gear such as: camera bodies, speedlites, remote transmitters and/or lenses. Only you can determine what is suitable for the shoot.
- Have contact numbers of your team members
- Give yourself extra time when going on location.
- Make a packing list so you know what you’ll need for your next location shoot.
- In the event that something goes wrong, stay cool. Stressing yourself out will only make things worse.
- Embrace the process and have fun with it!
Hair and Makeup: Mariana from Beauty Palace
Model: Giuli Abate @ BMG NYC / ATL
Photo Assistant: Patricia Meszler and David Michael