By Estefania Jomant, Production Lead at THR33FOLD
Everyone has made the mistake of leaving their batteries at the hotel room while on a family trip to Disney World, not realizing until that picture perfect moment arises. Fortunately for you, most cameras can be operated with disposable batteries that can be easily purchased at nearly any store. When it comes to professional photographers, we don’t have it as easy. The cameras we use come with expensive and expansive battery packs that are not readily available at anyone’s beck and call, which is why being unprepared can ultimately ruin an entire production schedule and furthermore, your reputation.
As an integrated interactive digital agency, we do a lot of production. As the Production Lead for the agency, it is my job to make sure every production runs as smoothly as possible. Here are my five things a photographer must do in order to succeed on set.
1. Always, always charge your equipment.
This is the most important rule of thumb. It is essential to make sure your camera is well charged. Most photographers have a minimum of two battery packs per shoot. If one runs out, you always have a back-up. This is extremely important, especially in outdoor shoots where finding an outlet can be next to impossible. With two batteries, you are guaranteed at least eight hours of continuous power. Don’t forget to make sure your lights are charged as well – LED lights usually come with battery packs. If you usually work in a studio setting, make sure you have extra extension cords and your charging cables. This will reduce stress and time during your production.
2. Bring an army of SD cards.
The worst position you could possibly be in as a photographer is to be in the middle of a photo shoot, and BAM… you run out of memory space on you SD card. You panic and realize you only had 2GB worth of space and forgot to format your SD card the night before. Yes, the client thinks you are unprofessional and so do I.
The most common mistake a professional photographer makes is not having enough space. I advise clearing your SD cards the night before so they’re completely free. I mentioned formatting too, it is imperative that you always format your memory storage device before every shoot.
3. Reflectors are your friends even if you don’t use them all the time.
Reflectors can be real lifesavers. I was once on the production of a digital video, and to my surprise, no one brought any reflectors. Lucky for me, I always carry one with me and in the long run it saved us from hours of glare editing and correcting because we were able to address the issue on set. In addition to removing glares, reflectors can be used to “fill” in shadows and create some pretty awesome effects with natural light.
4. Scout your location.
You have to know your location inside and out. From the exact location on a map and number of electricity outlets available within the space to whether or not there is something that could be a potential hazard to your team or the client. Do you require insurance? Are permits required? These details can only be addressed if you have done your homework. Get every little detail and create a plan prior to your arrival to the location. The more you are able to anticipate, the less stress the photo shoot will be. The same goes for shooting outside. We can’t control the weather, as much as we’d like to. Download the best and most accurate weather app you can find and make sure to check it every day leading up to your shoot.
1. Legalities are king.
I know, I know—this is the boring part of photography, yet it is the most crucial. I have seen plenty of photographers lose rights and have bad experiences dealing with copyright of their work. It is essential to thoroughly discuss and have everything in writing prior to production.
If you are working with talent this is a MUST. Do not skip this step, you need to pay the talent and discuss any potential situations that may arise. This has become even more relevant and important today as social media has provided us with an alternative virtual reality where rules and regulations seem blurred, and creativity plagiarized.
If you are working with a campaign that will be used for more than a year, you also need to discuss renewal rates for the talent and the percentage increase (which is usually 5% annually). Also who owns the rights? Do you? Does the client? Does the talent? Make sure you cross all your “t’s” and dot every “i” in your contract.