Cush 'n Shade Shoot Part 1: Behind the Scenes

Showing the model how to setup the Cush 'n Shade on Clearwater BeachMy membership in the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce has finally paid off!  I had the great pleasure of working with Steve and Stacey of Videosyncrasy who hired me to photograph behind the scenes (mostly) of their video shoot thanks to finding me in the Chamber's directory.  The main client was an Irish businessman who has a new product well suited for Florida, the Cush 'n Shade.  The client hired Videosyncrasy to shoot video for the Cush 'n Shade with my job as the still photographer to document the video shoot and when there was a break in video recording make some products shots with and without the four models (see Cush 'n Shade Part 2).  I learned a lot over the course of the 9-hour shoot!

Steve of Videosyncrasy working the camera as the Irish businessman client watches on the external viewer.

The first thing I learned is that setting up to record video of a relatively stationary subject matter takes a lot more time than it does to setup for making a still photograph of the same relatively stationary subject matter.  The need for an assistant is not optional on a video shoot.  

Under the rising Florida sun on Clearwater Beach, things quickly got hot on the set and Steve took out his video camera umbrella. I donned my trusty gray hat.

The photography was a real challenge on Clearwater Beach in broad daylight.  I was mostly using my Nikon D300 with SB-600 on camera and my Tamron XR Di II 17/50mm lens.  I could only use the flash when it did not interfere with the video being shot, further adding to the challenge.  Of course there was no shade to be seen anywhere.  Then there was also the horizon to keep straight in each and every shot!  This is always a challenge for me when shooting handheld, which I was the entire time.  Even though I used my viewfinder's gridlines to line things up every time, sometimes the horizon still came out a bit crooked.  Still, I was pleased with how many of the shots came out, especially given the challenging conditions.  Thank Buddha for Nik Color Efex Pro's "pro contrast" and "polarizing" filters!

When you only need a single model for the video shot, that leaves a lot of downtown for the other 3 models seen here on Clearwater Beach 

Another thing I learned is that there is a lot of downtime for the models, and even the crew.  On Clearwater Beach we were sometimes subject to a cloud passing over the sun, and often some random person just walking a bit too closely behind the set.  There was nothing we could do about the diving pelicans having a feeding frenzy in the water below us (see the 3rd photo from the top, look at Tom in the black cap).

Most of the time only one model was being used with the product, so the other three just sat and waited their turn to use the product on camera and eventually for pair work with another model.  I wonder if the models, while waiting, are thinking, "nice, money for nothing," or, "I want to get face time with the product on camera to get exposure?"  

Yours Truly holding a reflector on the set at Innisbrook Golf Country Club Resort

 I even put down my lens a few times to help out with the video crew!  These are my impressions of holding a silver aluminum foil type reflector:  it's hard work, especially if you have extend your arms out in an unsupported position; it reminded me of putting a magnifying glass on an ant as a child as you really reflect a strong beam of sunlight onto the models.  It's so strong that you know when you got the light on their face just right because they flinch at first.  As soon as the camera stopped rolling, I lowered the beam dutifully.  

All in all I really enjoyed being on the two locations and had a lot of fun with everyone involved and hope to work with that team again.

In a future blog post I will reveal the product shots I made and show how I tried to photograph the models in direct sunlight the best I could.