Being an adept problem solver is a key skill found in most successful photographers, and with complex photo shoots, the likelihood of something not going according to plan gets pretty high. On a recent project, Ben Von Wong had everything lined up, only to have things change and be forced to cancel the shoot, or make something else happen in a very short time.
It can be difficult to have a vision, have a plan, but then be forced to re-align yourself after things don't work out. Being flexible and able to solve problems calmly as they come can be the difference between a successful shoot or a complete failure. Ben had to do just that on this photoshoot.
With a location and crew already lined up, one of Ben's first priorities when plans changed was to communicate with everyone involved and start working on a a new source for a costume.
...the first thing I did upon realizing that the entire shoot was in jeopardy was to notify everyone that nothing we had planned was going to happen but that I was going to try and make something work regardless. I immediately began sourcing alternatives – reaching out to fans, friends and Facebook to try and find something that could potentially match Posh’s headpieces, in Perth, obtainable within the next three days.
Ben was successful in getting a new set of costumes to work with, but was still faced with a complex scheduling setup, with crew coming in from all over the place at a very early hour.
With only days remaining before the shoot, we came up with a plan. In the morning we would make the three hour drive, pick up some last minute gear, and detour to grab a tent & swags from a friend. Kylie, makeup, landing from Brisbane, would pick up supermodel Jess Yeh who had the clothing shipped from Barcelona and intercept us at the Sambadrome HQ so that we could select together which Samba pieces we wanted.
...we would split back into two teams, with Jess & Kylie at the campsite testing out the various looks we had prepared, while Anna & I caught the last rays of sunlight to get a little pre-scouting in. Finally, we would regroup, join the assistants and have a meal to plan for our 3:30 AM wake-up call the following day.
To add another level of difficulty, Ben was using a camera that he had never worked with much before, the Sony a7R. It didn't hold him back for the most part, but the slight increase in shutter delay did make it hard to capture the perfect moment of sand moving across the image.
After my initial tests, I felt like the shots needed a little bit more magic and drama. A little movement in the ground, I believed, would help add movement to the rest of the shot so I got Anna and Meghan to toss sand directly at Jess. This is where things started getting a little bit complicated. The Sony A7r has a shutter lag of 0.163 when prefocused. And while it may sound fast, a d800E has a shutter lag of 0.043. Almost 4 times faster which is a world of difference when it comes to capturing action.
For more information on the challenges Ben Von Wong faced on this shoot, including the exposure information of the final images and more behind-the-scene photos, check out Ben's own writeup on his blog.