Brilliant automotive shooter John Early has put together great moments from a dozen photographers he reached out to last week. He had two questions: what was the best moment, what was the worst? And what was learned from those experiences. John contacted me at the suggestion of his SF based rep Lenlee Jenckes who has a great group of photographers she works with. She really caught my attention with an Airstream promotional project where she asked each of her diverse photographers to shoot a story around the vintage airstream in each of their own styles and interpretations. The work then became a beautiful promotional piece.
But back to John’s best and worst: compiling the comments in a blog he thought it would be helpful to other photographers as well as agency creatives who would probably enjoy reading it. On board were Rhea Anna, Darryl Bernstein, Eric Hameister, Hunter Freeman, James Quantz Jr., Lou Lesko, Wendi Nordeck, Blake Woken, Luke Copping, Bob Stevens, myself and John Early.
“The Worst – There are two themes I’ve learned here. First: being a professional means still nailing it when gear fails and second: losing a big bid can throw you in the ditch for days. Hold fast and keep going.
Stupid mistakes and gear: The first was when I tied rolls of priceless film with bungee to the back of the motorcycle on the way to the lab – gone forever on the side of the highway. But more often it is the gear that I neglected to back up that created exciting moments. Aside from my normal work I shoot a lot of prominent Republicans that come to visit the Reagan Ranch. Early on I used speedlights and a wireless commander that went south in the middle of working with Karl Rove under a pretty tight schedule. Without a backup and without cords I resorted to on-camera flash and the results showed. Since then I spare no expense when the images need to be nailed under pressure. Shooting Sarah Palin this past weekend I brought in a Profoto kit with backups and always pay attention to the details when it needs to be fast, flexible and perfect.
Losing bids: It will always happen but one particular moment stung and I learned a lot from it. It was client-direct and they were not familiar with usage and the production levels needed for what they really wanted. My bid was far higher than others but fair. When they told me the levels of other bids I cut my estimate too deeply and this backfired: although I cut line items that others likely did not include they saw a response that they read as either initial price gouging or worse – desperation. Lesson learned: know who you are talking to, gather as much information as possible and stay at your level while aiming higher – sometimes you are just not the right guy and if it is for reasons of price you just found the reason to court better clients.“