I was recently asked to photograph 600+ subjects in groups. The job was open to interpretation and after some discussion it was decided that each group of 30 would be shot as smaller groups to build a composite image for the larger group image. Simple idea and would allow us a fair bit of freedom with posing which is difficult to achieve with large groups. It would also allow us to use a background that did not have to be the size of a stage set.
We now had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do and just needed to ensure that we could do it in the time allocated for shooting. Basically we had 9.30am to 2.30pm and a half hour break in the middle to do the shooting. That gave us 4.5 hours to work within. Set up had to completed before 9.30am. Each group would be broken up into sub groups of 2 to 4 subjects and for each sub group we would shoot 4 images. Lets think about this now. Twenty groups of 30 subjects broken into an average sub group size of 3 subjects with 4 poses per sub group.
Twenty X 30/3 X 4 = 800 poses.
Four and half hours X 60 minutes = 270 minutes.
270 minutes X 60 seconds = 16200 seconds.
16200 seconds divided by 800 poses = 20.25 seconds per pose.
So, to achieve the above with one photographer we would have to shoot a new pose roughly every 20 seconds and this makes no allowance for sub group change over and group change over. If we allow 30 seconds to change a sub group and 2 minutes to change over a group then we lose 20 minutes in group change overs and 5 minutes per group in sub group change overs. In total we lose 120 minutes or 2 hours out of our 4.5 hours just in change overs. This being the case we need to shoot a new pose every 10 seconds to make up for change over times.
At this point we can see that using one photographer is just not going to work. There is no allowance for multiple shots of the same pose, no breaks, no allowance for any slippage in change overs and no allowance for any technical issues and we have to direct, compose and shoot a new image every 10 seconds for each sub group. If it was a single fixed pose then it can be done. How do I know that? I've done it.
Creating the poses takes time. On this job we set up two identical set ups. Camera's, lights, backgrounds were set up identically. Two photographers worked up a sweat but we finished with time to spare.
Why bother posting this? Well, when you take on a job it helps to understand what you have taken on and to break it down into tasks and time. Identifying the bottle necks and working through the work flow will allow you to properly price the job and to complete the job on time.
Taking on a job like this demands that you think it through and plan it before you get there. You can't produce another photographer out of the back of the van so with a bit of planning he/she will be keeping you company for the drive there and back. Thank you Stuart.