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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On The Set With Jill Greenberg

Digital Photo Pro went along for the ride on an all-digital Hollywood photo shoot.

On The Set What's it like on a Hollywood photo shoot? To find out, Digital Photo Pro recently spent a day with Jill Greenberg as she did a shoot for Fox Television. At the Quixote Studios in Hollywood, Greenberg and her staff set up for a day of shooting a steady stream of models who came through the spacious studio. The team consisted of Greenberg, her producer, three assistants, a team from Industrial Color, a DJ and a caterer. This was a moderately sized project by Hollywood standards, but for the photographer, the stakes were still high. After all, if you don't get the shot, you won't get the call next time.

Greenberg is a veteran photographer, and her success has allowed her to organize a core crew who works efficiently and expertly. She relies on this group to make everything go well during the day. Considering that it's not a huge job, the inclusion of a DJ might seem like an expense that could have been bypassed, but it quickly becomes clear that his role in the shoot is key. He's providing an energetic atmosphere in addition to helping the models get into the shoot. With a carefully chosen playlist, the DJ isn't turning the shoot into some sort of rave; instead, he's setting the stage so that each model who steps in front of the camera can identify with the part. One of the models, “the country boy,” is greeted with a little John Denver (Thank God I'm A Country Boy), and so it follows for successive models. It might seem extravagant when an iPod attached to a couple of good speakers can provide music all day long, but in Greenberg's experience, a good DJ knows how to work with the dynamics of the shoot, and this day is no exception.

While she isn't a stranger to digital technology, Greenberg brings in a team from Industrial Color when she's doing a digital shoot to be sure everything goes smoothly and she can concentrate on shooting, rather than her gear. For this project, Industrial Color supplied the Phase One P25 digital back for Greenberg's Mamiya RZ as well as a pair of Macintosh G5s, a Cinema display at the shooting station and two more at the editing station and a printer in case there's a need to crank out a hard copy during the shoot. The two technicians are well versed in all of the gear, and the presence of redundant computer systems ensures that there won't be any problems.

With all of the high-powered technology and accumulated experience on the set, it's more than a little amusing that the day starts with a two-hour delay as an assistant is sent on a run to the store because the seamless has a crease and a new one is needed. It's always the little things. With models waiting in makeup, the new seamless roll is finally delivered and the final lighting check is done—the shoot gets underway.


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