The Photoshoot; A story

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. How, then, is one to pull off such a picture?

So, the client requested that we go to their offices and do a photo shoot. The client operates a social enterprise, meaning that they empower communities around them. The client trains and then contracts members of these communities to make their product. In turn, the client sources for markets locally and abroad for the product; with a huge chunk of the accruing profits channelled towards projects that impact the said community. Currently, the main project the client is undertaking is the construction of a health centre.

The night before the photo shoot, I am all nerves and butterflies. As it were, we will also be conducting interviews as we do the photo shoot. I am in charge of the interviews as I will also be the one developing the content for the client’s website and marketing material after the shoot. Which means that I eat light and food that my stomach is accustomed to. No need to have a runny stomach ruining the photo shoot. And just before I turn in for the night, I set my alarm for a very early morn.

What to wear… What to wear… Thing is, I woke up three times before my alarm rang. And on the third time – half an alarm before the alarm went off – I decided that I might as well get off my warm and cosy bed and get moving. I groomed, had a light breakfast (two slices of brown bread, a cup of milky coffee and a slice of pineapple – apparently, pineapple works wonders for the stomach) and checked work mail. Now, I am stranded on what to wear.

And why should I be stranded on what to wear? The way I see it, clothes makes a man. Which is to say that many a business deal were closed over a sharp pair of suits won confidently. Then again, you do not expect a farmer to go to their farm in a suit. Context applies in matters dressing as much as it applies in matters photography. Right clothes in the right context and you close that business deal, land that dream job or get your interviewees to relax and open up. Right photo in the right context and you interest customers to buy your products. Which is why we are doing the photo shoot.

My rendezvous for the day. Check into the office, run a few with our photographer and have the company’s driver take us to the client’s place. On my way to the office, my mind is all photography mode: compositing, the rule of thirds, perspective, lighting… When you are in the publishing industry, there is no such excuse that I am a writer or editor and, as such, I am not obliged to learn about photography. Plus, knowing a thing or two about photography might just render (another photography term) you as your clan’s designated photographer at family functions. Accruing perks being always getting served a generous heaping of pilau and goat meat ahead of the queue and being a favourite of the aunties.

My take at the end of the day? That when photographers retire (do they?), they can move on to a second and greet – you read that right – career as politicians. You should just see Joe, our affable photographer. You should just see how he cracks a joke to place the interviewee at ease… and click, click, he has that perfect shot for the editorial piece for the magazine that we are developing for the client. My other take, that teamwork is essentially for a great photo shoot. In our case, the editor, the designer and the photographer have to sit down, agree on what we want, and plan this as the itinerary to guide the photo shoot.

And just before we depart from the client’s place, I do a quick checklist. Photos of buildings, persons, interviewees, management, products, more products… we have all, and in abundance too such that the designer will have plenty to choice from. I call this the cardinal rule of photography: Overshoot.