So do you have a photography “Pre-Shoot” workflow?

So do you have a photography “Pre-Shoot” workflow?

How do you do it? How do you approach an outdoor photography shoot.?

Lately I’ve seen a few articles on photo shoot workflow and it made me think…not much seems to be discussed on workflow except after the fact and in the digital darkroom.

There are two ways to make photographs in the outdoors. One is to have a serendipitous approach which quite honestly works great sometimes or a serious pre-planning approach which if “Mother Nature” allows…well, works sometimes too. Although I like and will use both, the second option usually works better in the end. Caveat – NEVER turn down OPPORTUNITY!!!!

The first option – relying on serendipity is easy just go out with your camera and keep your eyes open. The second takes some planning. If you’re serious about your photography, a LOT of planning. Even for a day shoot.

Example:  Day trip to Bowling Ball Beach

  • Weather – includes consideration for time of year (season)
  • Local conditions – any reported hazards or impediments (access closures, other problems)
  • Sunrise/Sunset times and compass heading info (The Photographer’s Ephemeris)
  • Tides – never turn your back on the ocean.
  • Gear – I generally bring it all but consider carrying only what I need when at the location
  • Gear prep – make sure everythings is clean and ready for use. Charge batteries!

Recently I did a shoot at “Bowling Ball Beach” along the Mendocino coast in northern California. I’ve known about this place for many years and finally checked it off my bucket list (I will have to go back – I always do…)  This is what I would term a rather simple shoot.

Knowing this is a beach type shot with unusual stones showing in the surfline I surmised the tide should be taken into consideration. Some web research told me a low tide, not a minus tide, would be advantageous. Why? I wanted to do a long exposure of the water swirling around the rocks. I like ethereal images and this would be a good subject. So checking the tide is noteworthy. Next I was thinking at sunset would be good. Sunset times then became important. Could the Sun’s angle (latitude) be important? Yep…note to self. Any access restrictions or info? I’m an old guy, it’s important to me. I found the stairs are washed out – in this case wing it….but not always. Weather forecast? What to bring gear wise? These are just some of the things that go into your planning. These vary according to your shoot location. There’s always something more to and you learn to cover those as time goes on and your experience grows. And of course there’s always Mother Nature who just loves to mess things up – I can see her smiling now…

So when the stars, sun & moon all line up properly and your coffee doesn’t get too cold too soon, you might get what you came for.

We’ll get into “On-Site” workflow next time…



Sandstone worn by ocean waves

The pathway to Gojira’s lair