Improvisation brings out the best

 

The raw material for photography as we all know it is light and time. But a photographer who uses both of it along with his will and skill to improvise in any given situation is bound to excel and live up to his and his client’s expectation. Having said that, here is how I learnt that in photography, improvisation is as vital as its raw material:

 

Day of Client brief – Agency

The assignment at hand was to shoot a B-School in Trichy; to create a virtual tour of the campus on a restricted budget and time. I worked on a checklist for the assignment to serve the client in order to make sure the final product meets their expectations.

 

Day of Travel

The train ride from Chennai to Trichy summed up the client briefing where I was asked to feature the essentials of the campus and also add life to abstract themes of Unity – Strength – Victory – Leadership through my pictures. While the client understood that pictures can’t replace a real campus, they wanted me to portray images that can be a powerful tool to entice and convince prospective students to come to a campus in person. Good photographs of the campus could also place the college at the top of the list. Furthermore, these pictures were going to be part of the college pamphlet that would talk in volumes to parents who might not be able to afford the time or resources needed to visit a campus before admission.

 

Shoot Day

Armed with my Nikon D 800 I set out to shoot the beauty of the campus keeping in mind that I had to integrate the contemporary facilities and modern technology the College had at offer for its anticipated students. Usually I have an idea of what I want to create, but that does not mean I follow a routine in terms of composition, colour choice, or using a certain technique or visual cue over and over again.

 

Challenges

Just as dawn struck the sky and it melted away to a perfect orange I began the shoot. The exteriors of the main building stood out perfectly well against the natural light. Just when it seemed perfect to shoot some more images of the campus buildings nature surprised us with heavy showers. Now, I had a budget that did not permit me to put the shoot off for a later time. So, without wasting a single second (No, not even on my disappointment of how unpredictable nature can be) I followed my instincts, intuition and guts to photograph the inside of the campus.

 

Lesson learnt: Nature has bigger plans than your checklist and execution is way beyond planning.

 

Last minute client expectation:

I had to cover the idyllic learning environments of a classroom in less than 5 minutes and the client insisted that they would like that a student be in the picture. Hurriedly a student was made to sit down and I delivered a shot that impressed the client but me as a photographer… not so much. I could have done a better job and so did I!

 

So, I did this: Behind the boy is a door and when a viewer sees this image I wanted that the student gets undivided attention. The frame I shot includes too much to amuse about. Post production seemed like a good time to retrospect that. I dismissed the door and eliminated the ceiling, some colour correction, a tint of blue tone to contrast the student’s outfit and voila! An image that satisfied both the client and photographer was the result.

 

Blowing life into the abstract

In order to showcase Victory, we had initially planned a sport event with a tem winning an event. The scenario according to the plan was perfect but the weather demanded I came up with a quick plan. Tele lens came to my rescue!

I asked three students to hold a small trophy in their hands and raise it against a small patch in the sky that was not cloud clad. I zoomed the tele lens and shot this image. The flare above the star was a result of an external flash light I used.

 

Blowing life into the abstract

In order to showcase Victory, we had initially planned a sport event with a tem winning an event. The scenario according to the plan was perfect but the weather demanded I came up with a quick plan. Tele lens came to my rescue!

I asked three students to hold a small trophy in their hands and raise it against a small patch in the sky that was not cloud clad. I zoomed the tele lens and shot this image. The flare above the star was a result of an external flash light I used.

 

Next on the abstract list was showcasing team players. The outdoor shoot was done away with and students were asked to assemble in the library where I planned this shot. The shot demanded a scene of engagement and had to be executed creatively. So, one student is handing over a book (blurred for aesthetics), another student is seen instructing the student building a book pyramid as a fourth one looks on.

 

‘Think like a leader’ was another abstract feature that had to go out in the college pamphlet. What was planned initially was a picture of the Dean interacting with his students under a blue sky and gleaming sun. Unfortunately for me the sun god was angry on this particular day (this part wasn’t funny on the day of the shoot). Coming up with a new plan now somewhat seemed habitual and I shot a student taking notes while lost in deep thinking. Steve jobs was added in post-production adding weightage to the leadership aspect.

 

Nothing planned ahead was executed but improvisation helped me attain desired outputs. And I cannot agree less with Edward Steichen who said “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” You don’t just merely look through the lens and clicking a picture its bringing out the best in the picture you shot.