We were shooting some lifestyle ads for one of Austin's luxury, high rise condominium projects when I stepped away from the camera to give my eyes and my brain a break. We were shooting an aspirational ad with an "upscale, west Austin, soccer mom" (model) in her early 30's with a glass of wine in a "fabulous" kitchen, somewhere on the fifth floor. All the appliances were Miele or nicer. The wine chiller? Sub-Zero. The countertops? Italian marble. My attention span? Minimal. When I stepped away from the camera the highly (over)attentive make-up person rushed in to touch up the model. When my assistants saw me walk out onto the adjacent patio the smart one walked over to check the camera and the memory card, made sure the tether connection was still good and made eye contact with me to make sure there was nothing I wanted at the moment. The other assistant grabbed at her cellphone like it was a life raft in the north Atlantic and instantly started texting.....
When I walked out onto the patio I noticed this red chair against the blue sky and the low, rushing clouds. I walked back in and grabbed another camera out of my bag and snapped a few images. A retouched version (remove plywood to the right of the chair) ended up in the property brochure. I stood by the railing and watched the traffic below.
A famous photographer wrote a series of tips in a 1952 Modern Photography Magazine that I came across in the Fine Arts Library at UT many years later. His advice? "Once you've covered what you think is your subject, turn around and look in the opposite direction. You might find something fun there." "Always shoot a version for yourself instead of just what the job calls for." "Only eat steak when the client is paying for dinner." "Don't let them rush you. It takes as long as it takes to do it right." "How much light do you need? Just enough to do it right. Not a bit more." And finally, "Tell them it has to be real champagne in the glass because the photo will show the difference...." I guess the last tip was intended to keep the photo shoots fun.
The only tip I can offer is to make sure to prop the kitchen and dining rooms shots with stuff you and the crew will enjoy eating.... And that red chairs look cool against blue skies.