Half past midnight and doing time lapse at 7000 feet

Things have settled down just enough for us to catch our breath… We have a few hours at the airport while we wait for a flight, so I thought I’d use his second to look back at our hair-brained Arizona trip.

In today’s business climate, clients are often looking to their vendors to help them with the bottom line. For this reason, we work hard at making an effort to keep expenses as low as possible. Sending a photographer out on the road can often be an expensive prospect, especially when that location is off the beaten path.

One way to mitigate expensive location shooting is to gather a couple of clients together with similar needs and piggyback photo shoots. Here’s an example: one client may ask us to shoot a photo in Hong Kong. Before booking the trip, we would let long term clients know we were heading in a particular direction. Since it is not uncommon for our clients to have manufacturing facilities in similar cities, we are often able to put a couple of days shooting together on one trip.

Rather than one client paying for the crew to travel around the globe, clients can in a sense, “split” the cost thereby reducing the total travel expense by the amount of clients on board. It takes a bit of organizing and pre-planning, but if it can be achieved, substantial savings can be passed on to the client.

If we’re lucky, an international scenario like this may happen twice in a year, but where we see this frequently, is with domestic travel. This was the case on our trip to Arizona.

I’m going to kvetch about the trip, but don’t get me wrong… I LOVE to be out on the road. To me, there is nothing like it. I love it all!

I love minimalizing gear to streamline air travel. I love going thru security. I love sleeping in a window seat with my Bose headphones on, and I love having that first beer in the terminal after a successful shoot.

I love to watch panicky junior varsity travelers trying to stow carry on bags, I love seeing flight crews I have flown with before, and I love the hassles like getting the rental car.

To me, the road is where its at. I love filling up my passport with new stamps, and I love exploring new places. We are very fortunate indeed.  That said…. This AZ trip was an ass kicker! I’d do it again in a heart beat, but it was an ass kicker indeed!

The job started first with an environmental portrait in Phoenix, but quickly grew into several photographs for three separate clients as well as a full day of shooting video “B” roll.

Here’s the trip in a nutshell… No sleep, fly, shoot shoot shoot, drive, no sleep, shoooooot, drive, sleep a tiny bit, shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot, drive, micro sleep, shoot shoot, drive, beers, burgers, drive, beers, red-eye, change planes, home, sleep.

And if you really are interested, here are some of the details: Rabbit and I met at the studio on a Sat at 3am to pack and make a 5:30am flight. Boson to Salt Lake, and then to Phoenix. We landed at 13:00 (1pm,) ran to get the rental car and then sprinted cross town in order to meet a model in Tempe for a 3pm golf course shot.

Rabbit at the end of the line

Finishing that photo, we then bolted across town to meet another model at the ASU library. Having made that image, we drove to South Phx making our way (by car) atop South Mt. to shoot video time lapse of the sunset. Finished there, we finally headed to the hotel for some zzzz’s.

It was just day one, but we had flown cross country, made two separate images, and rolled three hours of video. Yikes.

Day two was pretty straight forward, spending it at one of the Phoenix Fire Stations.  At five we headed back up to South Mt so we could shoot more sunset video. Wrapping up at 8pm, we headed northeast for a 5 hour drive up onto the high desert finally hitting the rack sometime past 01:00.

Day three was definitely the best day of the trip. Although we only got three hours of sleep after our 04:30 wake up call, we had the privilege of spending the entire day (from sun up to sun down) shooting stills as well as time lapse video in the largest solar field in the US, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was amazing, and the scenery was intense.

After 12 hours in the solar field, we hopped in the rental car for the five hour trip back to Phoenix.  By this time we were both pretty beat, but the trip wasn’t over yet. That night we managed to jam in three or so hours of sleep and then found ourselves back up on top of South Mt for the sunrise video time lapse. From here we headed to a botanical garden to shoot some “B” roll video of flowers and then called it a day sometime past noon.

Rabbit stands in for strobe tests

It must have been because we were sleep deprived, but when we looked at the clock and realized we had about 11 hours to kill before the glorious red-eye home, Rabbit and I decided to make the two hour drive up to Sedona to get a beer and buffalo burger at a cool outdoor cafe. He had never seen the red rocks of Sedona, and the scenery was well worth the trip.

We had our burgers and then we had some beers, and were lucky enough to make it to Sky Harbor for our 11:55 red-eye home. I won’t say the red eye is the most pleasant, but we made it home safe and in one piece.

All in all, in four days, we did seven different jobs for three separate clients, driving just over 1000 miles to do it.

Like I said… It was an ass kicker. (but a blast!)