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A Hard Lesson In Preparedness

Coming off a somewhat productive weekend, I spent a little time reflecting on a recently missed opportunity.I had the opportunity to shot the amazing Chicago duo of Cali Sefora and Morgin Pabst. If you have checked out any of their work, and you know anything about my love for inked women, you’d know that this was an opportunity I was NOT going to miss.

This post is not about the shoot. That’s for another post. This story is about how not preparing properly for a shoot netted me less than stellar results on my part.

I have recently been going back and forth about switching camera systems. Recent history should tell me that it’s not a good idea. I switched from Apple to Android and have regretted it ever since. I currently shoot Nikon because, when I got started, everyone around me shot Nikon. It made it easier to afford equipment because everyone would share lenses and accessories and you didn’t feel like you had to drop a fortune on anything. You picked up what you needed, but there was someone in the group who had the thing you dreamed of using.

So after shooting off and on for the last 8 years (much more off than on), I am finding myself surrounded by another set of photographers, and the majority of them shoot Canon. I would also like to try my hand at some sports photography, so Canon seems to make the most logical sense.

I don’t currently own a lot of Nikon equipment. I have a Nikon D80, a Tamron 18-50 f/2.8 and an old Nikon 80-200 f/4 push pull relic. I also have a couple of SB800 speedlights. That’s it. That’s my equipment bag.

A friend of mine who shoots with me pretty regularly is eager to get me to switch systems. Gabe shoots Canon and said that I could borrow his 50D to give it a try. So, with that, I felt I was set. I’m going to rely on my friend to hook me up for one of my most anticipated shoots of the year. Sounds logical enough, right?

The night before, I was walking around the house, considering whether I should pack up my Nikon gear, just in case. A thought came to me that I would pack up my D80 to use with the studio’s Alien Bee Ring Flash.

That was the extent of my preparation.

I didn’t go through the usual routine of laying everything out in the living room and ensuring I had everything I needed. I counted on my friend having me covered.

The day of the shoot, I contacted Gabe and asked if the 50D was SD or Compact Flash. I was planning to stop by the local Best Buy for last-minute memory card stock-up. He said he had more than enough CF cards for us both. With that, I didn’t stop by the Best Buy and didn’t pick up any extra SD cards for my Nikon.

So, I get to the shoot. I grab the Canon 50D. Gabe and I discuss lens options. I have my lighting set up. The models are amazing. I give a little instruction. And we’re off.

Except the camera wasn’t.

I pushed the shutter release and there is a super-long delay. I thought maybe I had the shutter speed set incorrectly. I’m panicking. I don’t know the Canon camera system. How do I get to the menu? What are the menu options? How do I change the shutter speed and aperture on the fly? I started to get flustered. I started to get frustrated. I turned the camera off, then on again. The screen shows the proper settings. I press the shutter, I get 2 shots. Then nothing. I refocus. Press. Press. Press. FUCK! Error. Turn camera off. Turn camera on. Talk to the models. They’re getting bored. Refocus. Shoot. 1 shot. Error. Camera off. Camera on. Error. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!

My Nikon is hooked up to the ring flash, I can’t just grab that. Wait, I have the Canon T2i in the bag (it’s my brother’s…). I can grab that. FUCK! I didn’t get spare SD cards. I thought I was covered. I missed the whole first look. Let’s get changed. Second look.

Pissed!

The only thing that saved me from packing my shit and walking out of the studio was the fact that Morgin and Cali were AMAZING human beings, and complete professionals. They have been on shoots before. They’ve seen photographer meltdowns. They kept me calm. I borrowed a memory card from another photographer and popped it in my T2i and kept the shoot moving.

This account still sticks in my mind. I haven’t moved past it yet. It has taught me 2 things. First, you either plan properly, or you plan to fail. Second, no matter how “taken care of,” no matter how small the shoot, I will go through my shoot routine EVERY time.

Luckily Cali and Morgin will be back to the DC area in June. I am looking very forward to working with them again. I submitted the few shots I did get for review. Hopefully they see something they like. I will post some shots in a future post and on Instagram. Be sure to follow!