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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bulk Up Your Book

Producing personal photos on a budget

You Can't Do It Alone!

Bulk Up Your Book Assistants—you need one or maybe even two, period. This may be the biggest but most invaluable expense of the shoot. Unless you have little or no equipment besides your camera, trying to light, lift and load everything yourself is not only extremely difficult but eventually wastes precious time.

My fellow photographer friends and I use each other for this task, but we still try to pay each other well or at least work out a barter deal. My friend Monica works with me a lot, and I also rent her Profoto Acute light pack, Mamiya RZ camera and lenses, as well as her Canon EOS 20D camera for the day. We have the same type of gear, so if any of my equipment goes down, I have hers available for backup.

For her time and gear, I usually pay $250, and she works her butt off. She often borrows one of my lenses or Mamiya RZ backs for her own shoots, so we sometimes work out a different fee. But these are the things you must consider when you're doing your shoots. Figure out where you can find your discounts, trades and favors.

Renting Equipment

Although I use Monica's gear, there's still some equipment that I have to rent. Samy's Camera has two locations in Los Angeles, and I usually rent a PocketWizard transmitter, a couple of receivers, a beauty dish, grids for the Profoto lights and sometimes a Profoto 7B; it's helpful to have a battery-powered strobe in case you don't have access to power. I may need an extra lens for my Canon digital camera, and lately I've been using a fog machine. C-stands and sandbags are a must.


Be thoughtful. People become tired, thirsty and hungry on a shoot, of course. Go to a coffeehouse and pick up a cardboard jug of coffee, paper cups, napkins, milk and sugar. Bagels and cream cheese, bananas and granola bars satisfy hunger and won't cost a lot. Always have plenty of bottled water on hand.


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