Every photographer eventually runs into unexpected problems on set and on location. Here’s how these seven pros overcame obstacles and what they took away from their struggles.
Photography is full of challenges. The legendary photographer Edward Weston put it simply when he said, “It is work, and hard work too.” Successful photographers devote time and energy to making their images look simple and easy. In reality, they’ve spent countless hours behind the scenes, dealing with one obstacle or another. But there’s a silver lining: at the end of every daunting task, there’s a lesson to be learned.
We asked seven top Shutterstock contributors to tell us about the most difficult shoot they’ve ever completed. Some of them conquered their biggest hurdles in the studio, while others ventured to remote corners of the world to encounter unexpected complications. All of them will remember their experiences for a long time to come. Below, they share the wisdom they’ve gathered along the way.
1. “If it helps to tell a story or convey a certain mood…it’s worth it to spend a lot of time preparing and building things for your shoots.”
Image by Fer Gregory. Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM lens. Settings: Focal length 61mm; exposure 1/125 sec; f8.0; ISO 400.
What’s the most challenging shoot you’ve done?
I would say that the most challenging shoot I’ve ever done is part of a series about Mexican objects. The challenging thing about this shoot wasn’t the objects but the town itself. I live in the city, and traditional folkloric Mexican towns are hard to find. They are also filled with cars and people, so my solution was to build a scale model from my idea of what a typical town might look like.
I started by doing a sketch of the elements that would be nice for the picture, and then I asked for help from one of my best friends, who also happens to be the model for almost all of my shoots. He is a really talented guy. Both of us built the town from scratch, put Christmas lights inside every window to make another version of this image at night, and painted the whole thing. It took us almost three weeks to complete, and when it was done, the shoot took me about one hour. We then destroyed the town because I didn’t have anywhere to keep it.
I was really happy with the result, and when I saw a picture from that series on the cover of a magazine, I felt it was all worth it.