Mr Murphy I presume

Mr Murphy I presume

I’m learning about the “art” of blogging. I have a few posts written that may never see the light of day or backlight of monitor. Why you ask? Because I started to write about the shoot before it happened as if I had a crystal ball or never learned Murphy’s Law.

Many shoots go almost exactly as planned (within reason), but others… let’s just say require adaptation. In those situations there can be a lot of (third party) moving parts, schedules get pushed back, access is restricted, you encounter something called weather, etc.

This is where experience and professionalism come into play. In theory the professional you hire will have either experienced a similar monkey wrench or be able to adapt seamlessly to the “new normal”.

On a number of occasions I’ve arrived at the media check-in for a sporting event to learn my name is “not on the list.” Is this a monkey wrench? Sure, but not a big deal. Rule number one is that “crap happens” or, in these cases, “crap that was supposed to happen didn’t.” You may be surprised to learn that you photographing an event may not be the highest priority or the first thing on the mind of an already overworked administrator or their highly motivated interns. Most of the time, your lack of credentials were an accidental oversight and can be rectified with a quick phone call or text. At worst when this has happened it’s caused me maybe a ten minute delay. Those ten minutes get subtracted from my “I got there at least 30 minutes early” time so no big deal.

A bad way to approach unexpected challenges (or anything) is with a negative attitude. If you throw a fit you could get your way but at what cost? I’ve been told I couldn’t shoot in areas of arenas to which I have full (credentialed) access. The security person policing that area was just doing their job. Never hold it against them. If you can move, move. If you need to be there or know you’ll need to be there later you can perhaps negotiate a slightly different place to shoot or find out if there could be an exception even if its only for a few seconds at a predetermined time. I’ve been able to stand in the middle of  (and block) an entrance just to capture the opening tip-off by explaining the plan to the usher. If you’re personable usually other folks will be too. On occasion I’ve had to appeal to a security supervisor or to my boss. Again, always keep an even keel.

Weather is a completely different ballgame (so to speak.) Some shoots are planned far in advance so you have to stick with the day (especially when it involves numerous people.) You have to have a bad weather plan created in advance and you and your client have to be prepared for those (probably different) results.

Then there are the things you prepare for and plan on yet things still go awry. You may have wondered about the crappy image above. That would be some of Springfield’s bravest responding to a fire alarm. One that I tripped with a fog machine.

I knew the fog would trip the sensor in the facility’s optical fire detector. I arranged with the owner a week or two in advance to see if it could be disabled temporarily. He confirmed it could and I was in his office when he called the alarm company. Unfortunately the person at the alarm company turned off the wrong alarm, leaving us with a very loud and embarrassing result.

Because I saved the smoke effect for last on the shot list  (just in case) we already had the images we “needed” without said smoke. We all agreed not to “test” the alarm company or the alarm again and called it a night. Mr. Murphy would have been proud.


This article has 2 comments

  1. Very insightful post. I had to smile when I read about the fog machine incident. 🙂 I experienced something similar with a fog machine being used by a DJ at a party once. If anything, it was great blog fodder!

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