Traveling is a mindset.
The fundamentals for a successful experience have very little to do with planes or itineraries. It’s kinda’ like our profession. Does knowing what technically defines an F-stop help us find our vision or convey experiences through our images? Does it make perfect execution of intricate logistics, especially while on the road, easier?
(Straight from Wikipedia: In optics, the f-number (sometimes called focal ratio, f-ratio, f-stop, or relative aperture ) of an optical system is the ratio of the lens’s focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. It is a dimensionless number that is a quantitative measure of lens speed, and an important concept in photography.)
Does this knowledge help us? Not really, though knowing it makes us appear smart…try deftly throwing around ideas like dimensionless numbers and quantitative measures regarding light next time someone questions how easy it is to be a photographer, then see what happens.
So, to officially marry travel and image-making we need The Producer. It’s one of the crucial roles that will help us survive The Great Democratization (in other words, handing us cameras that shoot video along with the many new roles we now have).
You need to either become a producer or hire one. Hiring one is expensive but if you do it yourself you’ll need to be a thorough planner to pull off intricate jobs without flaw. You’ll also need to balance the empirical stuff with the freedom to explore so you can open the door to the possibilities that will make great images. How do you balance this wearing of multiple hats if you decide to go it alone? Make a list and keep things simple.
Research everything. Know your subject like you’re the one who created or discovered it. Know your limitations and hire someone when you can’t do whatever needs to be done. Use GPS (or at least have good maps). Use referrals – kinda’ what ASMP is about – connecting shooters and assistants. Plan for emergencies (involving equipment, talent, transportation). Have a backup plan for the emergency plan. Buy extra insurance. Know how far it is to the local camera outfitter along travel routes to or at destinations. Turn over every stone along your path to project completion.
Will all of this guarantee a perfect shoot? Perhaps. But if not, extensive preparations will separate you from the pack and the not-so-perfect shoot can still be a success.
Previously published on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog.
John Welsh is the current Philadelphia Chapter President and STILL spending every spare minute of his time in the northern reaches of Pennsylvania filming really old school and abandoned coal tech for a documentary about preservation.