The question I propose is “Is planning for specific shots on a photoshoot worth all the trouble?” Now, first off, you should always plan or have ideas of what or how or where you are going to shoot at a specific location. However, does it always pay off? Do you end up spending more time and effort in planning something that gets thwarted once you arrive? How often do you go to your Plan B, or even Plan C? You can spend ample amounts of time preparing for a shoot and have to resort to your Plan X, Plan Y, or Plan Z; that’s just the way it is.
I recently photographed a model for portfolio shots for the both of us and even though I had one specific shot idea that I wanted to get (and another semi-specific shot idea), I ended up more satisfied with a different shot. I am attaching a handful of the photos that I came out with, but I am not going to say which was the shot that I underwent the most planning for (or the secondary shot idea); I am leaving that for you to figure out. Though I ended the day with shots that I and she were more than happy with, it just goes to show that the planning process does not always pay out.
The location, Slick Rock Recreation Area near Three Rivers, CA, is a place that I have been to many times. I have photographed families there and have always wanted to take modeling shots there as well. It’s a tricky place to plan for. In the summer when the weather is nice and warm, the run off from the snow in the mountains makes the area completely flooded and more of a lake up to the parking lot and almost to the main road. In the winter when it is pretty cold to say the least, the water is very low opening up many options to shoot. Light river rapids, large trees which are completely underwater during the summer (yes… it floods that much), nice large boulder type rocks, and wide open grassy fields are much of the landscape you can expect. Being winter time, the temperature was quite uncomfortable for me as well as for the model when in some outfits or changing between them. But if you have a good model, which I did, it shouldn’t affect how they work.
Needless to say, my knowledge of the location, a good model to work with, and plenty of creative and technical planning couldn’t make what I envisioned in my head become a reality in camera. Since I am used to going with the flow, however, we brainstormed together and shot what was the closest to what I was trying to get. So in this case the planning did not work to my advantage. See if you can guess which shots were the ones I planned and which were a result of our on location brainstorming. For fun, keep in mind that the temperature dropped as low as 44˚ when it got dark and every spot we photographed would have been under water in the summertime, including the road!