This Monday I decided to play hooky from work and help my friend with a photo shoot. This was an absolute blast. The photo shoot was for a Coca-Cola concept piece. The shoot was organized, conceptualized and the vision of my friend Greg Brown. He is an Amazing photographer that is revolutionizing the world of photography with bold and exciting work.
I was given an exclusive opportunity to assist him in the role of “production assistant” for a Coca-Cola concept photo shoot. I was told it would only take 4 hours, from 8am to 12 noon. So there was no need to call in sick, merely use half a day away from the office. Since I am my own boss with people reporting to me, I exercised my option to delegate. I left home fully outfitted with my road warrior setup, this included my iPhone 4 fully charged, my Sound ID ear piece fully charged and a triple shot espresso latte. As I arrived at the designated location, I immediately begin to notice something was amiss. First off, the photographer wasn’t there. Secondly, neither was anyone else. I check my text messages, then email, incase I missed a last minute change of plans update. Nope, none sent, event still as planned. I go into controlled panic mode and make the phone call.
Greg answers, “Hey man, I’m running a little late, call the stylist, sync up, proceed with organizing the models.” That’s all fine and dandy but the stylist and the models are all late. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that its okay to be “Fashionably Late” in the fashion world. I’m a techie, I sync time to on the atomic level. Now mind you this is supposed to end at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time. At 0830 hours the ballerina arrives, 0845 hours the make-up artist arrives, 0900 a flurry of phone calls and text messages overwhelm my communicator as everyone starts to arrive. We have models showing up from as far away as Philadelphia, Pa and Staten Island, NY. I’m in awe, I’m surrounded by some of the prettiest ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Who said you can’t have your Cake and Ice Cream.
The production goes into full swing with the models moving from hair to make-up to wardrobe to set. The set is 46th street between 5th and 6th avenues in Manhattan. It is 12 noon and the photographer is just beginning to shooting. Hey, isn’t this the time its supposed to end? I guess I didn’t get that memo either. The models begin to rotate onto set and Greg does what he is good at. He is an artist and 46th street was his canvas. Camera shutters are clicking and whirling away. We have 3 camera’s going off at the same time from different angles, capturing different perspectives on the same scene. Greg directs the models, they respond to his commands. They are in the zone, oblivious to anything but their art. I am assisting. I am checking shadow, lighting, background, crowd, make-up, hair, all the extraneous details whilst Greg captures magic .
As I give the order to send down Model number 2, I have a moment to breathe and look around. I spin around and take in the landscape. A large crowd of spectators has gathered and they are taking pictures. The crowd grew to a point where it was actually impacting traffic and we had to dedicate two people to crowd control and two to traffic. By now the clicking of shutters was being drowned out by people on smart phones talking to friends, family, associates about what they are witnessing. I could imagine the postings on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and all the other random social media outlooks. “Coca-cola is doing a live photoshoot in the street right now, get here.”
The shoot goes extremely well, the models, the photographer and assists are all happy with the shots. We shot over 1000 frames plus about 15 minutes of video. All said the shoot ran 4 hours over the allotted time. As the models begin to wind down and we go into post-shoot mode they tell me “No shoot ever ends on time, you always have to allow an extra 2 hours.” Whoa is me, mental note – noted!
So what was my take from this experience as the production assistant? Well I have a few takes on organizing a shoot. First, always allow for extra time. If they say its from 8am to noon allow 2 extra hours for key people to arrive late and hold up the shoot. Secondly, have fun while working. At the end of the day I had a wonderful experience, met wonderful people and changed my outlook on models.