Sit, Stand, Or Lie Down?
on June 28, 2022
Or, in the case of the surf photographer, swim madly for the surface before your life insurance kicks in...
The physicality of the photographer is a subject that gets little thought - bar the fatigues involved in mountaineering, real estate shooting, or the long-distance wedding. These are real enough, as the participants will attest, and we all know that when we're on a photographic holiday the distance back to the hotel at the end of the day is 3 times what it was when we set out in the morning.
But what about the fatigues and stresses of the other shooters. Spare a thought for yourself if you are shooting:
a. Architecture. It never comes to you - you go to it - and if the wretched pile...oops, sorry....I mean icon of modern design has been perched or wedged into some impossible plot of land you can just bet that the iconic view the client demands will be seen from an even more awkward place. Be fair - you demand it, too, because you recognise the value of the unique image and if you can get it without pitching over the edge you'll be boasting of it ever after.
Watch yourself around building sites. Things fall, drop, and swing around all the time. The architect may want you there but the building crew do not. Be circumspect.
b. Art. Art is where you find it, and in many cases you find it half-way up a wall in the busiest corridor of the gallery. They are not going to take it down or let you stand on a ladder to get a shot square to the canvas. Plus they have crews of wanderers who will tag-team in front of you when you are ready to shoot. The lighting will be either pine-pitch torches or a German flak searchlight. You will earn your money, and if you are not getting paid for it all you'll earn is blood pressure.
Note: Every art gallery has a jobsworth who will circle you to make sure that you do not fire off a magnesium flash in the textile gallery.
c. Portraits. What? Portraits are easy...you just push the sitter into the iron head clamp and take the lens cap off. Or dance around like a maniac trying to simultaneously light their face, sooth their nervousness, and stroke their ego. The most successful portraitists capture the essence of the sitter by relaxing them and waiting for the decisive moment. Sympathy is needful - go look up Arnold Newman's portrait of Herr Krupp if you want to see sympathy in action. Why, I'll bet Alfred ordered big on that one...
The portraitist who works from a tripod at least has something to sag against when it all gets too much - in the old days you could dive under the dark cloth and get a minute's shut-eye. Not the modern shooter - they have to be either zooming a lens or themselves to get the different angles that a client demands. It is tiring and you should quit when the studio starts to swim before your eyes.
d. Stage photography. If you are accredited with the company and have the permission of the artists, director, and stage manager...plus the janitor and the girl who sells ice lollies at half-time - you can get some great shots from the house, or stalls, or circle, or lobby, or the street outside the theatre.
Should you try it from the wings you will get three things: art, distortion, and in everyone's way. Actors act to the audience, not the wings. That's where dancers project as well, so side shots are not quite what you expect. Musicians are actually fun from the side as they make odd faces and noises while they play.
e. Food Photography. I don't do this myself, as I was taught to defend my dinner against all comers at our house.
For those of you who do, you'll know that great food photography depends on styling, lighting, and timing. The first two can take an interminable time and the last is a spilt second before the dinner either slumps or ignites. Caught it is perfect - missed means cook again. I do not know whether it is better to shoot food hungry or full, but I know which I'd bet on - pass me a fork.