Monday, March 14, 2011
How To Keep Working When Your Gear Quits—03/14/11
Continue shooting even when everything goes wrong
It’s exactly this situation when things most often go wrong. Sure enough, what should have taken five minutes of low-stress shooting turned into 20 minutes of panic and anxiety and sweat. My gear failed me, and suddenly I wasn’t getting the shot. This sort of thing happens on occasion, and the key is to be prepared. I thought I was, but it turns out I was wrong. Here’s what I should have done when everything went wrong on that shoot—and what you should do when your gear fails you in the future—which it inevitably will.
1. Don't panic. I know, it’s easier said than done. But really, you’ve got to keep calm as much for your subject’s sake as for your own. If you remain calm, the subject and client will too. After all, nobody expects you to be perfect all the time. It’s how you perform under pressure that will impress your subject and your client. Plus, remaining calm will help you do the second most important thing (which I was totally incapable of): think.
2. Think clearly. In my situation, one thing went wrong and I didn’t stop to take the 30 seconds to breathe deep, think clearly and determine the best course of action to fix the problem. Instead, I panicked and tried to push through. This only exacerbated the problem, making me panic even further, making more things go wrong, and making the whole shoot begin to sink.
3. Bring backups. It may seem obvious to those who are paid to photograph, but backups are an essential part of being a professional. It’s the backups that allow you to keep your cool and get the shot. And really, all that matters is getting that shot. When something fails on a shoot, the only thing the client should notice is that you’re swapping out the malfunctioning item. That’s why I back up batteries and CF cards, as well as crucial elements like camera bodies and sync connections. If it can go wrong, it will, and it will only be a problem if you haven’t brought a backup.
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