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When It Comes to Work, Always Overprepare

Right before Christmas, I did a product photo shoot with the fine creative team at ferroconcrete. I was anxious to see their office, since a) I'm always curious about the spaces in which other designers work, and b) the work on their site shows a sleek, modern aesthetic. Indeed, their loft space at The Met is just the kind of office I'd like to have... tall ceilings, tons of windows, concrete floors, and that touch o'Ikea that's a pre-requisite to loft living/working. (Also, The Met has a cool entrance feature, where blocks on the ground light up -- and sound -- as you step on them. This was enough to put a spring in my step after the long day.)

The type of photography we were doing required the light to be blocked out, and although there were blinds on the windows, blackout fabric was needed to counter the bright sun. My assistant and I brought tacks and duct tape to hang the fabric, but because the ceilings were so high, we needed a ladder. The creative director, Yo, called the maintenance department to bring one, and when he arrived about 30 minutes later, the guy who helped up revealed that we couldn't use the ladder ourselves... we had to direct him what to do. I'm sure this is some union or liability concern on the building's part, but I definitely made a note to myself to bring a ladder to shoots, because it would've saved us the time we waited for the ladder and another 20-30 minutes for the actual hanging of the fabric we stumbled through with common bits of English and Spanish.

As we started setting up, so many little things came to mind as "would be nice to bring" items that haven't come up before as necessities. For instance, double-sided tape would have helped on a few occasions; extra cleaning wipes would've been nice so we wouldn't have had to dip into the office's supply; a pop-up table for the computer (for previewing shots) would've been especially great, since the table we were using was about 12" high, making for lots of bending, getting down on the floor, and craning that added up to a sore neck at the end of the day.

Although we had a few things to suspend some of the product pieces in the air as they were photographed, we determined that monofilament was probably the best choice... which, of course, we hadn't brought. The creative team was gracious enough to track some down at a nearby Big 5, and it worked better than the other tools that usually work for bulkier subjects.

It's a simultaneously positive and challenging thing to shoot on-location with the creative contributors: On one hand, anyone who should have an opinion is immediately available to review things and direct; on the other hand, speaking from past experience on the other side, it is really tempting to overwork or second-guess choices because everything (equipment, materials, lights) is right at hand. Overall, I'd much rather overwork or second-guess than not do enough, and these people were very easy to work with... they definitely gave their opinions--which is the best, because nothing is less productive than directors who don't feel comfortable directing!--but were nice and smooth collaborators. Thanks, Yo, Ann, and Sunjoo! 

I am anxious to see the final result of this shoot, because ferroconcrete is breaking new ground on this market. Just from seeing the materials so far, they are doing something amazing and new!

The shoot ran much longer than we would've supposed, and as I put the last of my equipment in the car, I thought of one more thing that would've been nice to have... Why don't they make a junior-sized cigarette-lighter Slurpee machine for emergency thirst situations? I would definitely buy one. Maybe even two!