Recently, I’ve found myself improvising way too much just because things didn’t go as planned and too many unexpected variables came into play. So for the last photo shoot for which I was commissioned, I decided to create a backup plan, and a backup for the backup, in case something went wrong. You're likely familiar with Murphy’s law: “If something can go wrong, it will”. Somehow, this is always true for me, as nicely illustrated by my latest photo shoot, so the backup plans came in handy. To begin with, the first location suddenly became unavailable, and a rooftop and a sunset were the requirements. Luckily, I had a few extra locations at my disposal.
But backup plans aren’t always about locations. When a larger project is at hand, you’ll need a backup for everything, since anything could happen. The wise thing to do is to make a checklist of the flow and resources you'll use for every photoshoot.
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Gear (Camera, lenses, lights, and everything else)
Time-frame can’t really be backed up in the regular fashion. Through your own experience, however, you'll know how long you personally need to complete one shoot with the given specifications. Let's say that the time necessary is three hours, as an example. If you need three hours of shooting to capture the necessary images for which you are commissioned, it would be best if you add some time, just in case. I tend to add an additional third of the time needed to the beginning and again onto the end, so if the shoot needs to be done during the sunset which occurs from 17:00 – 20:00, I’d start my shoot at 16:00 and end it at 21:00, because the sun is in that location where I can fake a sunset easily with some work in Lightroom and Photoshop, and it gives me spare time in the event something goes wrong. Legal agreements are the thing that keep your images yours and limit the usage outside of the agreed specifications. This works as a backup plan for your budget in case your images get misused. They are a form of your personal backup, as well. Summary Having backup plans is always a good idea. It never hurts to be safe, and in the spirit of another apropos cliche: better safe than sorry. Mishaps will happen, but having a backup plan only affirms your level of professionalism. Clients understand that you can’t have everything under control, and when they see that you are prepared for those times when things don't go as planned, they will feel confident that you are the right person for the job.
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