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Hunters and Smoke

Hunters and Smoke icon

As a commercial photographer, one of the biggest stressors that I face is getting the shot. Some shoots are easier to accomplish this than others, but you must always get the shot or you haven’t worked hard enough for your client. However, today’s post is about a shoot where getting the shot was actually an impossibility.

It started with a call to shoot an advertorial of a truck getting some hunters around the open landscape of Oklahoma, aiding in their quest to bag a large turkey. It was a piece that I really looked forward to as I wanted to test out a new camera body on set. However, before I even set foot in Oklahoma, I got a call that would change everything I planned for the shoot.

hunters-and-smoke-2

My travel itinerary had me flying to Oklahoma City by way of Dallas. I would then rent a car and drive an hour and a half to Sulfur, OK (not only the name of the city, but actually the smell). However, upon landing in Dallas, I turned on my phone to an absolute barrage of voicemails from the creative director. I called him back, while running from one gate to the next, only to get the news that the truck for the photoshoot had been destroyed in transit to the location.

Shit…

There are many ways to look at this situation. The despair route would say “all is over” and that I should stop everything and look for a flight back to AZ. However, the way I chose to view was that I was off the hook, playing with the house’s money. When all hell has broken loose and the control of a shoot is out of your hands, you can only achieve greatness. I got on the plane to Oklahoma with the intentions to go out, shoot well and create a piece that was worthy of publishing (even without the truck).

hand-and-brush

Upon getting to the location I was met with one more setback to the piece… You see, we were supposed to do a turkey hunt with the now crashed truck. However, in the haste to get the piece shot before the publishing deadline, the client had failed to notice that turkey season actually started the following week.

Again, Shit…

So, there we were… shooting a turkey hunting campaign where we couldn’t hunt turkeys, while using a truck which we didn’t have…

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To be honest, I was very stressed in the beginning as my mind ran “what if” scenarios nonstop from the hotel to the lodge where we staged. However, once I let go of the idea that I could control things that were out of my hands, I saw a piece that existed, beyond the limitations put on my shoulders. We could shoot free of failure, free of control, and free of critique.

We created art that day, a story of real life without the forced falsities that exist an advertorial. Ironically, the piece was so well received by the client that it was run… without a truck at all.

 

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Way to make it work..

    This line is priceless:

    “So, there we were… shooting a turkey hunting campaign where we couldn’t hunt turkeys, while using a truck which we didn’t have…”

    January 16, 2013
  2. Great post, Blair, and awesome reminder. I LOVE the first two shots. The composition with the smoke in the background is absolutely wonderful.

    January 16, 2013
  3. I find it pretty rare that a commissioned shoot goes off without a hitch. Perfect example of how to handle things like a pro!

    January 16, 2013
  4. Blair, an excellent definition of the word PRO. So many useless arguments on forums about the definition of a Professional Photographer, but you have explained the difference of what we do as working professionals.

    1. It’s all about the client
    You put your client first and instead of whining about not having the right gear you stepped up and delivered.

    2. It’s Not About The Gear
    Even though a key element of the campaign, the truck, was not available you worked around the limitation and stepped ip to the plate.

    3. It’s not as Planned
    I can’t count how many times (especially on editorial jobs) that things change at the last minute, or where not as described when you took the assignment. ” You will have an hour with the subject” only to find out you have 10 minutes when you arrive.

    Blair, thanks for sharing what it takes to make a living as a photographer in the real world.

    January 19, 2013

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