Recently on Pinterest I came across the following image.
At first glance, I thought it was an interesting graphic showing how art directors take a concept from a sketch to a scouting photo to the final shoot. Then I started to think about my recent photography projects and the planning that went into them. So far in this class we have focused on most candid-type pictures (sports assignment, event assignment, final multimedia assignment). Our portrait and product illustration were the only two assignments where we as the photographer controlled everything about the photo; wardrobe, lighting, location, etc. While I definitely did some pre-planning for both of these assignments, the idea of doing a scouting photo to test location and lighting never even occurred to me. Usually when I’m beginning a project I will go to the location I want to shoot at, take a few test shots of the subject, and continue from there. For the portrait assignment especially, scouting a location and doing a test-shoot before the actual photo shoot would have been highly beneficial for me as a photographer. Since I was photographing in a bar, the lighting was very tricky and I wasted a lot of not only my time but my model’s time by trying to figure out what settings would produce the best photos in that lighting. If I had gone to the bar and taken a few photographs the day before, I would have already known exactly what settings the camera needed to be on for each unique lighting situation. I could have also taken test shots to see how different wardrobe choices impacted the photo. I had my model wear a blue/green shirt, but would the photographs had looked better if he were wearing purple, red, yellow, or black? These are the kinds of decisions the director of photography needs to make in order to obtain the best photos.
Even for shooting candid photos, going out and scouting the location can only help the photographer. When doing my sports assignment, for example, if I had been able to go out to the course before the event I could have figured out where the best place to stand was, what angles worked best in the arena, and which lenses to bring on the day of the real shoot. Since I don’t yet have approval from the Athletic Department to shoot my final multimedia assignment, I can utilize this time to go out and take scouting photos of the locations I hope to photograph. This way, (hopefully) when I get permission I will already know exactly what my concept is and what settings (ISO, exposure compensation, flash compensation, aperture, etc.) will produce the best quality photos.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”