Whenever I complete a job for a client, or even for myself, I sit down and make a brief statement of what I learned before, during and after the shoot.
The latest job, for Holiday Ford in Peterborough, was no different. After the shoot I unpacked all my equipment, re-charged all the batteries and made my list of things that I learned.
I like to complete this process as soon as I am done and before I get into the editing process. In fact the editing or retouching is usually set aside for at least a night. I feel that I often perform better after a good night' sleep. This results in better images and happier clients.
So, what did I learn?
In this case I learned that I need to invest in a more powerful flash system to deal with the bright sunshine. Shooting groups of people where the light needs to spread over a wide group, requires either a multitude of small flashes or, 2 to 3 large lights with either portable battery packs or built in power supplies. Either way, I am looking at what could be a substantial financial investment. (the key here is "investment")
I also learned that I need to have access to a skilled assistant or two. (Thank you Ernie for being available and for providing your invaluable assistance.) Why did I choose Ernie? The main reason is that as a photographer with years of experience, he was able to anticipate what I needed, and offered valuable input. This is important in being able to get the job done on time with a minimum of hiccups. (and yes, we did have a hiccup) Hiring an assistant can be problematic in smaller communities compared to larger metropolitan areas. There just aren't that many around. In this case, I utilized the Facebook Groups which are made up of local photography enthusiasts, pros and semi-professionals. I posted a request for an assistant, and Ernie was one of 3 people who raised their hand.
I learned that generally being pleasant with the portrait subjects is very important. They are nervous and probably uncomfortable having a lens aimed at them, even if just for 2 to 5 minutes. It's intimidating to say the least. Engaging in brief conversation and getting them to communicate makes them relax and even enjoy the experience.
There are a couple of additional points that were in my post-shoot notes, but you probably get the idea of what sort of thing I make note of after my shoots.
I would advise every photographer to do a similar review after every shoot. I know that when I do it, I certainly gain insight into how I can improve moving forward. It takes just a few minutes and you can only benefit from doing it. Shoot, reflect, improve. It's a valuable process and an inexpensive investment in your business.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.