- Limited time frame.
- Day, night, twilight, interior, exterior - 1 long day.
- Working around construction.
When it's time, it's time
Some shoots are more challenging than others. My Paradise Casino shoot was pretty relaxed. Construction was complete. The owner had moved in and customers brought life to the shots. A pretty easy shoot. This time it was different.
The casino was finishing up installing the games, there were construction tweaks, cleaning, and making ready for opening night – that night. Add to all of this whirlwind a photographer asking people not to move stuff, stay out of shots, and not to bump the camera during a long exposure. It was chaotic, but managing this was actually not as difficult as I expected.
In addition to the chaos, the drive to the site was nearly 1.5 hours, and I had a full day of shooting interior, exterior, twilight and evening. I also wouldn't be able to come back and re-shoot for several months if required. So, getting it all right the first time was critical.
It's not really a problem though
The best advice I ever heard about customer service came from Mike Kelley (a wonderful architectural photographer in LA, whom I hope to meet at some point). Mike said, "be a nice person." This is, of course, a universal truth, but sometimes people just say stuff and it sticks with you. The only way I made it through this day was being a nice person.
Working around the construction was easy enough, just move boxes and stuff out of the way, people are easy to negotiate with if you are nice, and willing to help with the effort.
Working with the employees setting up games, and cleaning was never a problem because they don't want to be in shots in the first place. I just ask them if they'd like to be a model, and most of them, save the outgoing, say "Oh Lord, no!" and get out of the way.
Lastly, working to get 10-15 shots, was also pretty easy. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. Then think about your day, the photos you need to take, where the sun is, and what's going on at the site. Then schedule more.
But really, the main reason why these things weren't problems is because I made sure people knew I was coming. I contacted anyone I could to make sure the contractor, owner and client all knew what my plan was, and the schedule. This is what made everything go smoothly.
Working from a schedule
The most important thing I learned from this shoot was to work from a schedule. This allowed me to accomplish so much, and I didn't have to go back to re-shoot anything. I didn't even know what state the site was going to be in when I arrived. But because I had a schedule I was able to work with the sun and make minor adjustments for the on-site shenanigans.
Have you ever worked around construction? How did you handle boxes and clutter?
Please let me know what you think of the photos, and you can see the full gallery at my Behance site here.