Do Your Research!

I'm a big advocate of photographers doing research on their subjects and locations before each shoot. I spend a few days, time permitting, before shoots researching the locations, weather, subject's backgrounds, studying locations on google maps or google earth to know exactly what I'm gonna walk into.

Well, yesterday...... I didn't so much..... and OUCH.

Continue Inside....

Yesterday, I had 3 assignments that are as easy as they come. So easy, in fact, that the only research I did was addresses for my locations, and some contact names and numbers in case I needed them later.

That was a mistake.

I went down to Gilbert for my first assignment. Take a picture of one of the World Trade Center beams on display in front of the Buffalo Wild Wings, it is on display because the Town of Gilbert is raising money for a permanent memorial, and is putting the beam in prominent places to get word out. That one actually went off without a hitch, 10 minutes and 20 or so images later, I was off to my magazine shoots.

Both shoots were for Arizona Foothills Magazine, the foremost fashion, culture, nightlife magazine here in Arizona. All I needed to do was go to a couple upscale locations, and take some photos. Super easy stuff.

First stop, Hotel Valley Ho, to get some photos around the pool on a Saturday afternoon. Due to my lack of research, I had some ideas of what I was gonna see, and how I would shoot it. I was expecting the moms and kids to be playing in the water, I wanted a couple lights, and to half-submerge the camera for some fun underwater shots of the kids. Well, I check in at the front desk of the hotel, and get a pass for the pool area, and as I'm walking towards the pool, I see security guards, a DJ, a huge Heineken sign, and no children or families whatsoever. I was walking into Summer Session, an adults only swim session with music and partying. Not quite what I had in mind, and my shot list went out the window!

I salvaged it, rolled with it, and got the images I needed. I considered myself lucky that since I hadn't looked into what was going on there, it could've been much worse. Alright, that done, next stop just a few blocks away is The Mint.

At The Mint, I needed some shots of people hanging out in the restaurant, drinks at the bar, etc. It was about 6pm, and I expected the place to be full on a Saturday night with a fun dinner time atmosphere.... Nothing. Nobody. It was dead! There were 3 women at one table, and 2 people sitting at the bar watching TV. No music, no people, no atmosphere.

Had I done some research into The Mint, I would have learned that it's less 'restaurant' and more late-night 'lounge'. Most patrons won't be arriving until at least 10-11pm.

There was no way to salvage that one.

I had to go home, and go back around 9:30pm to get the shots I needed. It's a beautiful place, and I may go back one night without a camera, but the most beautiful place means nothing without people if the people are what you're there to shoot! So, lesson learned..... even on the easy, no-brainer assignments, DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Learn the times, the locations, the crowds, look up event calendars, weather, lighting, permits, call the locations if possible, ask for their input on the best days AND TIMES to shoot. I was really lucky that I was able to still get what I needed from both locations, and at only the cost of returning later that night. With a tighter deadline, or busier Saturday schedule, that may not have been possible, and that's when you lose clients.

Always do your research!

 The Mint at 6pm

                                                               The Mint at 10pm


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