Friday, February 21, 2020

If It Looks Good, Shoot It!

Nurse at Crawford W. Long Hospital, Atlanta
(Now Emory University Hospital Midtown)
Canon EOS 10D, 28-70 f2.8L lens

In 1972, I was hired as an intern/assistant/general dogsbody at a small, strictly non-Hollywood film production company. We made what were called in those days “industrial” movies (basically short films made to promote and/or sell a product) and also made many training filmstrips, mostly for the fast-food industry. (For the younger set, I should explain that a filmstrip is a series of photographs arranged in a story-telling sequence on a single strip of film and shown by means of a special projector.)

I had been involved with photography since 1968, and was eagerly looking for a way to make a career out of it.

My first out-of-the studio assignment was to go along as a helper on a shoot for some audio-visual training filmstrips for Arby’s Roast Beef. We went to a brand new store in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where everything was still sparkling new and clean.

As I said, my company was by no means a large operation. Usually, a two-man team was sent out on jobs like this: a director, who was also in many cases the script writer, and a photographer. I was just along to help out and to gain experience.

Our lighting setup for this kind of work usually consisted of three 1000-watt daylight blue tungsten floodlight bulbs in 18-inch reflectors which we called “scoops.” I was salivating with anticipation, because this was finally my chance to learn all about lighting ratios and exotic stuff like that.

We set up the lights at the work area and the photographer moved them around a bit. He turned to the director and said, “That look okay to you?” The director said, “Looks good to me. Shoot it.”

And thereby I learned the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned about photography: photography is all about how things look. If it looks good, it is good. Shoot it!

(And then rearrange a few things and shoot it again. It may look even better.)

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