April 19th, 2010
Photography Tutorial: Surrealism Pt.2
tired stressed out attractive woman sitting in an office chair in a lobby
Hey everyone! This week's installment of the "Surrealism Series" is bittersweet for me, as I’m indefinitely putting it on hold. Why? Because after more pre-production testing this week, I’ve discovered that it’s just not working. More accurately, the techniques I was testing were actually doing what they needed to do, but the look was not what I had hoped for. I’m taking advantage of this situation to provide a short, but very important lesson, to those who read my blog – so not all is lost.


I’m a bit of a planning nut at times. As some of you might know, I also work as a Director of Photography (AKA cinematographer), and it was the film and television world that made me this way. I’ve seen first hand what happens when people don’t adequately plan, and on a big scale! The best run film shoots of my career all had extensive pre-production planning involved. How extensive? Let’s just say I’ve used 3D set replicas and mathematical lighting calculations for two of them…

A quick real life example from my career:

I once lensed a spec TV commercial in the DC area. The budget was tight, the crew had to be small, and we needed our act together if we were going to finish the shoot in the two days we had to work with. To make sure things ran smoothly, I visited the set with the director a few weeks in advance and took all the required measurements to create a 3D scale model in a previs program called “Frame Forge”. Using this scale model, we were able to plan out our shots, and what we discovered really shocked us. Some of the storyboard shots were literally optically impossible! Needless to say, we saved a LOT of time on set not rigging the camera for a shot that just plain old wouldn’t work. This was not the only thing our prep helped us avoid. The program gave me a lot insight into the spatial dynamics of the set, ultimately helping me plan each setup change, as I knew how much room we would have outside the camera frame to store cases, setup tripods, dollies, etc… this is extremely valuable information to have pre-shoot! Most film shoots get bogged down with horrible logistics planning – ie. when to shoot what, when to move gear, where to move it, etc.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. Imagine the headache and amount of money lost had I went forward with the surrealism shoot without testing my techniques. Ouch.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks post! Pleas feel free to comment below and interact with me. Are you an Art Director or Creative Director? If you are in need of a photographer for a commercial assignment, contact me here.

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