Castles make very powerful, imposing photography subjects. These grand buildings are usually set in a stunning landscape, and are full of detail and character. They tend to evoke some sort of emotion, whether happy or dark. Typically, they have a grizzly history that adds to the story of the shot. On a cold, windy day in April we decided to host a group shoot at the Piatt Castles in West Liberty Ohio.
Working as a behind-the-scenes or “stills” photographer was an entirely different experience for me. This was my first group shoot and as a photographer I naturally tend to take charge of the creative direction, but this time it was all about BTS or behind the scenes. Working BTS requires you to work within different dynamics, not least of which involves being surrounded by other creatives, each with their own opinions and ideas. But truly this was a great collaboration and opportunity to learn from other creatives. Here’s what I learned.
Working Around Everyone Else
The groundwork has already been laid out, so the only thing left is to fade into the background. Listening and watching these pro photographers give direction and set up shots was like a master class in photography. Although I’m a pro, I still consider myself a student. It had to be strange having me stalk them while on the grounds, but watching them work and collaborate made me giddy!
It’s Not All About You
I realized very quickly that although I was there to take observe for the blog, I was also the step holder, the atmospheric aerosol sprayer, the dress fluffer or whatever else the models and photographers needed. This was a large production and sometimes people needed help so I was happy to jump in when I was needed.
Expect the Unexpected
BTS can also mean you’re working with a large number of people. Shooting behind the scenes and meeting a bunch of new people means not having control of what was going on. Honestly, that’s a good thing for me! The only problem with that is the weather was cold and windy and the models’ wardrobe was not for that weather. The cold wind made for some difficult shooting conditions so I’m excited to see the results from this shoot.
Here’s the thing, being behind the scenes is a privilege. There was a real sense a community throughout the day and it was nice to see so many photographers and models to share their creative visions. You may end up taking more photos than you were planning to. You’ll almost definitely end up putting in more effort than you thought you would. But it’s always interesting to be present on someone else’s set and gain an insight into how other people work.