Monday, October 09, 2006

New York Time Magazine Cover Shoot

Yesterday was the big day. I woke up at 5:45 am after not falling asleep until about 3:30 am (a GREAT nights sleep before such a big shoot). My mind was racing all night with lighting possibilities, troubleshooting things that could go wrong before they went wrong, and random nervous tics. I had breakfast, packed the car, and drove to Kowalski’s to get morning snacks for the family in the shoot. After a quick stop at Caribou to pick up coffee for the family, I drove to downtown St. Paul to pick up the photo editor from the St. Paul Hotel. It was great to finally put a face to the voice and the e-mails. She was personable and easy to talk with. I thought someone in her position could be a bit pretentious, but she was super.

We arrived at the first location, and my photo assistant pulled up right behind us. We all introduced ourselves to the family with breakfast goodies in tow. I had met everyone before, but the assistant didn’t know anyone, and the photo editor had just talked to everyone on the phone and had never met them in person. Everyone seemed in good spirits, so we got set to take the first photos in the backyard.

Everything went OK at the first shoot. We had some issues with the littlest guy (a cute three year old) who didn’t want to always be in front of the camera, but we were all patient and worked at his speed. The photo editor helped keep everyone happy during the whole day, which was very helpful. We fought with the sun in every other shot, but everything came out.

I burned through 6 or 7 rolls, and we were ready to more on. We had the cover shot. It was in those few rolls. I was thinking about this later, and I realized that it should have been more of a turning point - knowing that I had the photo for the cover in the bag. But I just kept pluggin along. I knew that if I banked on the thought that I knew I had to cover photo, that would be my excuse for anything else that happened later in the day:

Oh, that light doesn’t look perfect? Well, that’s OK - I’ve already got the cover shot.

The kids won’t cooperate? That’s fine. We can stop. I have the cover shot already.

I didn’t want to say those words. I didn’t want to fall into that trap.

The photo editor and I hopped in my car and drove to the second location. The photo assistant and I set up lights, ran some tests with my digital camera, and got ready for the second run. We started making photos with the new "TV trick" (see previous post) and all seemed to be going well.

Then my heart jumped into my throat, and I actually choked.

My camera back was set in the horizontal position - the position that I always use in my work, but NOT the position that I was supposed to be using for the vertical cover of the magazine. This was one of the potential issues that kept me up the night before the shoot. I was always used to using that horizontal position. So when we started shooting at the second location, my camera was set back to its standard horizontal position, and I didn’t even give it a second thought. I reshot the last roll that I had just shot incorrectly. I thought I had covered my tracks, but shortly after, I was questioning how long the back had been set like that.

It kept me awake yet another night.

Well, today I picked up the film and I think everything is going to be OK. No one’s head was chopped off by the horizontal back, although it’s tighter than I’d like it to be at the top of the frame. We’ll see what the photo editor tells me tomorrow. I sent her contact sheets today, and I hope to hear from her shortly.

Time for bed. More later...


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