NEW Q&A: Equipment

Q & A:

Was there a piece of equipment that saved the shoot?

The most valuable thing to have on a shoot when you hit a snag is the ability to be creative and resourceful. I’ve put this question out to a select group of photographers and stylists to see what has gotten them through some tough situations. What worked for you? I’d love to hear your comments here to emails at!

Thank you so much to Caroline Hirsch of National Geographic Adventure for suggesting this question!!

– Jacqueline Bovaird, Glasshouse Assignment

Spencer Jones

I was shooting the GO chair, a beautiful metallic silver, stacking chair. I planned on photographing it on silver foil paper, laying sheets of the paper down for the surface and rolling it into tubes for the background. After spending most of the shoot day prepping it came time to place the chair and set up the camera. I soon realized that we didn’t have enough background. I needed to find a solution fast. I remembered having a 4 x 8 sheet of mirrored plexi left over from another shoot. We slid it in under the chair for the surface. The mirror reflected the background, which gave us this wonderful silver surface, and definitely saved the shoot.

Nikki Wang

The makeup which saved the shoot, would be concealer. One time, I flew to some island and my equipment didn’t arrive, but I had to do make up. Luckily I had a small palette of concealer in my personal bag, off course using to correcting under eye dark circles, but using more of pinker color for the cheeks, dark color for eye and eye brows…saved the shoot. For hair, I think a narrow flat iron, because if you can have a good control of your movement, you can not only make the hair strait, you can also curl the hair.

Miha Matei

Having a back up camera! I was on a photo shoot in Brazil last year in a rain forest and my main camera completely died on me. I had a back up camera and was able to switch it without stalling the production, but it could have been a disaster had I not had a spare camera.

Terese Bennett

Believe it or not “Hollywood Fashion Tape,” which can be found at any lingerie store, is what saved the shoot. The real use of this product is to tape your clothing to you so your bra wont show.When I use a lot of glitter for shoots and have to take the excess off the face. I was on a shoot in upstate New York in the middle of nowhere. We were on a farm and shooting a high-fashion story with a not-so-high-fashion-stylist. In the middle of the shoot, the stylist was pinning the dress and ripped a hole right down the middle of a $20,000 gown (not mentioning the designer out of respect). Normally, you could safety pin the dress, but with the way it was made it would not lay flat on the model’s chest.  Everyone freaked out because not even Photoshop could have saved this escapade. I happened to have it in my kit from a shoot I did the day before. So when I looked in my kit after an hour of contemplating, and a pissed topless model, I realized I could use the tape that I use for glitter. It actually hadn’t dawned on me until I saw some glitter on my face from the shoot I had done the day before. I always love glitter, but that day I loved it even more. Needless to say, my Hollywood Fashion Tape saved the day.

Ryan Schude

Coffee usually saves a shoot for me, and jokes, yep, coffee and jokes is all you really need.

Robert Wright3

I am going to venture out in a different direction from gear; gear is the kind of thing that we all prepare for and know how to deal with when it fails. Our inner “MacGyver’s” take over.
My answer is going to be that “ego” saves a shoot. And I am not talking about confidence either. It would be hard to do the job without confidence, although many out there do, I have met a few…so it is not confidence, in fact, ego can save you from a lack of confidence, which should tell you they are not the same.

Ego is what tells you can do the job better than the next person. Ego is what tells you your idea is better than the art directors when it is bad. Ego is what tells you can get something where no one else can. I can’t imagine a photographer who could manage without this. There are too many demands, to many compromises, and too many failures just getting to most shoots that in then end, ego can solve. Ego can also ruin a shoot, which should tell you it is integral to the making of pictures. We have all met THAT person…

Bottom line is that without a firm sense of who you are and what you do (ego), and a “knowing” that it is valuable, none of the external circumstances matter. Tyler Hicks, the New York Times photojournalist in Afghanistan, recently was on patrol and lost his footing and dunked all of his equipment in a river. Then they came under fire in an ambush. He continued to work with a point and shoot that a colleague had with him. Hicks knew his ability to make pictures mattered more than what he was using, and that, in short, is ego.

Stephanie Hanes

A level is definitely something that can make or break a shoot, especially when working on a large set. If a prop wall isn’t level, everything that goes on or around it gets skewed and you have to start all over again, which can waste a lot of time. It pays to get that shelf level straight off the bat, not only to keep less holes in your walls or wallpaper, but also keep your digital retoucher happy too.

As always, thank you to everyone who contributed to this month’s Q&A! The feedback has been wonderful and incredibly encouraging. Let’s keep it up!

Keep a look out for next month’s question and email blast!!

If you have any ideas, comments, or if you’d like to participate in our monthly email Q&A, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Jacqueline Bovaird. I am always looking for new voices to add to this evolving discussion.

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1 Comment

  1. Cool article, glad to come accross your nice blog. I keep coming back here without saying thanks for the ideas you share, so thanks!. With a Schwarzeneger voice : I’ll be back! 😉


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