The Daily Double. Portraits in the morning and a video production in the afternoon. "Don't cross the streams!"

From: "The Grapes of Wrath" at Zach Theatre. Photo: ©2013 Kirk Tuck

Multiple shoot projects make for long days. Here's my Thursday saga:

I committed to two projects today and they were each a bit unusual for me. The first was to go to the offices of an advertising agency I do work for and make portraits in their small, all purpose photo/video studio. We'd be photographing four people from an accounting firm, individually. Now, most of the time I shoot in my studio or we go to a client location, commandeer a biggish conference room and shoot there. Doing the job in someone else's studio was a new wrinkle.

In keeping with my recent LED hysteria I packed up four of the big, new LED lights, appropriate light stands, two soft boxes, tripod and a bag of cameras. I went with the Nikon cameras for two reasons. First, the in-house photographer (who is also a too busy creative director) shoots with a Nikon D800 and I didn't want to spook him or create an atonal vibe by interjecting
the brashness of one of the smaller format cameras. But mostly I shot that way because it was my plan to also use a couple of Nikons for my afternoon project.

We've got a traffic problem in Austin and even though the ad agency is barely six miles away it's along a highway called, Mopac (or Loop One) and yesterday, because of construction, and a couple of accidents, the media reported that making that six mile stretch could take up to an hour. That was how it was yesterday. So, I got up early, packed the car and headed out around 8:15am hoping to make a 9:00 am setting up schedule at the location. Of course, everyone got schooled yesterday so today it seems like everyone else left an hour earlier and, as a result, there was no traffic, no wrecks, no delays. Door to door was something like ten minutes. So I'm at the location a good 40 minutes before they even open.

Yes! There is a Starbucks across the street and I head there to quaff some coffee, eat one of their chocolate croissants and read the Wall Street Journal. My clients called as they rolled into the office and I drove across the intersection to meet them and load my gear into their studio space. It was a very straightforward shoot in which we talked about kids, property taxes, traffic and new restaurants; all of us staying studiously away from any mention of the current political news.

I wrapped up, packed and headed back south to my office. I added more gear to the selection already in the car, popped a frozen food entree in the microwave, downed a quick lunch and then headed west.

My second job was to videotape the headmaster of a private school for the splash page of that school's website. They were adamant that they would need very high quality production values so I brought a bit of everything with me. The marketing manager and I had done a pre-production meeting the week before and I made sure to ask them to: secure a location, write a script and rehearse their headmaster. I made sure they knew that our lighting and audio set up would take about an hour. But, as you probably know, most people don't really take a lot of what they hear in pre-prod. meetings seriously.

When I got to the school we went on a hunt for an empty classroom in the shiny, new addition. They'd scheduled the headmaster for 1:30pm but the one classroom we could access in our schedule wouldn't be released to us until 1:36pm. We re-jiggered the schedule and everything worked out okay.
I set up two softbox lights; one on either side of the camera and one about a stop bright than the other. I used a backlight from one corner and we integrated our manmade lighting into the light rolling through a wall of windows on one side. All in all, it looked pretty cool.

My video friends and I have some fundamental disagreements about microphones and, I am sure they are more right than wrong. Their default for just about everything is to put lavaliere microphones on anybody they videotape. They love lavs. I really like the sound of nice, directional microphones boomed just over the talents' heads --- about 18 inches from their mouths. That's what I went with today. It sounded good in the headphones. I ran the audio through a Tascam DR60ii and into my main camera which was the Nikon D810 with a 50mm Sigma Art lens on the front. f4, 1/60th at ISO 400. 30 fps.

I used a D750 as a B-roll camera over to the side by the windows and framed that view a bit more tightly on our talent. The same settings and the same white balance applied.

We dodged announcements over the P.A. system and got to work.

There are lots of different ways people react to being on camera. Especially if it's something they haven't done before. Our guy is a great public speaker, and even better when he is talking to you one-to-one, but he had a tendency to second guess himself when trying to deliver an extemporaneous ninety second speech into the camera. We wasted some card space with a series of stops and starts and then we switched to an interview style engagement with me asking questions to lead him into comfortable responses. Once we got that figured out he was delivering like a genius.

Schedule is schedule and we got what we could get in the time allotted. I'm thinking we have plenty of good material with which to cobble together a nice video but I'm learning that I'm always going to want MORE to chew on.

I packed all the gear and bungee'd it all back onto the cart. Then I headed off into the sunset (actually - away from the sunset) and came back to unload the car at the studio. I can't wait to review the footage. I think it's the same for everyone who shoots. You either come away with a sinking feeling or you get more and more excited with every take you review. Let's hope my late afternoon experience reflects the later....

Take a class: Become more skilled and knowledgable. Have more fun.

One of the original Craftsy Photo Classes and 
still one of the best! 

I met Lance a couple of weeks ago in Denver
and found him to be really fun and knowledgeable 
this class reflects what he teaches in hands-on
workshops in Ireland and Iceland, as well as 
cool places around the U.S.

How to make what we shoot into a cohesive
train of visual thought.