The Big Commercial Shoot

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Gear Review, Notes from Rich, Photography, RLC Design 1 Comment

For an alternate title, “Why I’ve been off the blog for a few days…..”

Chris Marzonie at the ready


A little over a week ago Chris Marzonie got in touch with me.  He wanted to know if I had time Wednesday through Saturday to help him do a shoot for a national company.  Interesting.  I’ve never done a big commercial shoot for a national company before, but knew I was ready to take on such a project.  Unfortunately, I had several client meetings on Wednesday that would be hard to get out of.

Fortunately over the period of a few days the schedule changed.  Now photographers were only needed Thursday – Saturday.  Better.  Do-able.  So, yes I could go.  That seemed to make Chris happy.  🙂

Wednesday night we got to Phoenix.  The Thunderbird School of Management.  Pretty neat place.  They’ve got a great hotel for folks attending conferences there, and it was convenient for the client.  The big bed was quite a change from the Airstream bed.  Ahhhhh!

Thursday morning we hopped right to it.  8:30 a.m. meeting, 9:00 a.m. start time.  For the client, we needed parking lots.  Part of their new marketing campaign for their particular service.  The first lot was a grocery store.  When Chris had mentioned this to me earlier in the week I was concerned.  Permission.  Do we have it to shoot there?  The final answer we received was a big resounding yes.  So, we setup and started warming up into the shoot.

Maybe an hour in a gentleman approached us and asked if we had permission to be shooting in the lot.  The client coordinator spoke with him and we continued….for about 10 more minutes until the same man returned and asked us to leave.  While permission had been obtained, it was not through a higher authority.  Ugh.  Setting up the lighting gear and breaking it down takes a little time.  And getting set up to deal with ambient light takes time.  We had to move.

Fortunately the client had spied a vacant lot not too far away.  So that’s where we moved the shoot for the rest of day one.

Day two found us at the client’s office space.  A huge lot, some good opportunities.  All good.  Chris got on scene a few minutes before me and began getting a few shots to get a feel for where we should be shooting.  A security officer approached him and asked if he had permission.  Of course we did, this was the client’s own parking lot.  Only moments after I arrived a second guy showed up and let us know we’d better be working for them, otherwise we were on private property and we’d have to leave.

Bottom line folks.  Permission is everything if you’re doing some kind of shoot these days in public spaces.  A few big softboxes and umbrellas get attention quick, and you will be talking with some higher authority quickly!  Fortunately, I’m very aware of the issue and wasn’t surprised in the slightest, even at the client’s own location.

Day 2 of shooting went super.  Great shots, great skies, perfect temperatures.  A little wind, but none of the gear got knocked over.  All good.  All very good.

Where did I fit in

Initially the idea was to have both of us shooting.  However, early into the first day with wind, lighting changes, having to move, etc, I found myself dealing with the lights, the tethered camera setup, the laptops, and battery charging.  No problem.  Adapt to any situation.  While we had an assistant as well we really needed two if we were both going to be shooting.  Day One did see gear fall over, and only one umbrella was harmed in the end.  Pretty good actually.

On the second day I did shoot for a while at our first location.  But I was running back often to check the results on the tethered laptop.  Great to have that on location.  Immediate client feedback, and it allowed their artistic coordinator to react immediately and change what he didn’t like.

So, in the end I was the light guy and second shooter for a while.  That’s okay.  We made some great images and we know the client was happy.  The lighting worked out well under the harsh Phoenix sun.  Ever try shooting mid day down there and controlling the light?  Yeah, it’s a chore!

The Gear

This is where I came in.  I’ve slowly been building my portable lighting gear over the past 2 years.  And with this gig I ordered in a few final pieces of equipment that I want for the new studio.  Yes, I’m broke, but with this shoot I could afford a few final pieces of equipment so I bought them.  In the long run it’s an investment in my business.  One more month of being cheap isn’t going to change my world.

The biggest winners this week hands down?  The new Tether Table from Tether Tools and the new Matthews C Stand.  The C Stand was invaluable, and in the wind setup properly I knew it wasn’t going anywhere.  I’ll blog more about each piece of gear soon.  I almost didn’t bring the C Stand, but last minute it was thrown into the back of the truck just in case.

What else worked?  Well, the tethered Macbook Pro rocked!  The client loved it.  Also, the Radio Popper JrX system was great.  There were a few moments where the poppers didn’t fire on cue, but hey, nothing in technology is 100%.  I’ll blog more about that soon as well.  Just to let you know, I am a very proud Popper owner, so don’t think little glitches impact my thinking too much.  The Poppers perform well and they’ll always be in my gear box.

Well, there’s the wrap for today!  You’ll read more soon, so check back in again.  No commercial shoots for this coming week, so I’ll be back in the office soon.


Comments 1

  1. Rich, thanks again. Fantastic job, pal. I’ll have to agree that the tethered connection was invaluable for this. The Tether Table and the C-stand are good performers. Now we just need a rolling mini-bar. . .

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