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Mistakes - Part 1 of Many

Everyone makes mistakes.

I am no exception to this fact. My mistakes are many, and I have no doubt that I will continue to make mistakes as long as I have breath in my lungs. My most recent mistake (as an assistant, that is) happened less than a couple of weeks ago...

A week before it happened, Joe had planned on going into the city (NYC) for a shoot. He'd given me a pack list, which I took, packed everything, and double checked. I was just finishing things up when he came out and told me that the shoot had been postponed until the following week.

No big. Just leave everything packed and we'll be ready to go when next week rolls around, right...?

During the course of the week, things inevitably get moved around, somewhat unpacked, etc. The day of the shoot rolls around again, and I load up the truck with what had already been packed, loosely checking to make sure we still had everything. Looks good.

We get into the city, fight through traffic, and arrive at our destination. Get out, make chit chat with the people we're going to be shooting (friends of Joe's), then start to figure out how we're going to set things up. The shot Joe has in mind calls for firing the camera remotely via Pocket Wizards.

Guess what Joe's genius assistant had put in their own small bag and sat on top of the camera bag (which I moved during the week) during the initial pack, then overlooked when he was re-loading the truck the following week...


If there's one thing that I have learned from Joe since I've been working with him, it's that every problem has a solution. In addition to that, he has a policy to "never let 'em see you sweat," which he talks about in his book, The Moment It Clicks.

We immediately begin brainstorming to find a solution...

Have a car service bring the Pocket Wizards into the city from the studio in Connecticut? Too time consuming...

It's Friday evening... Who is still open...?

Joe gets on the phone and finds a store across town that's open for another hour and has some in stock. I jump in the truck and "race" across town (as quickly as I can in Friday evening NYC traffic, going through Times Square), and make it to the store with time to spare. Grab the Wizards, hop in the truck, and get back to location where Joe is already under way getting things set up.

Hook up the Wizards, do some test firing, and we're good to go.

The rest of the shoot goes pretty smoothly, and Joe was able to get some great pictures (but then again, when does he not?)

So, the lesson here is that you should ALWAYS double, triple, and quadruple check your pack to make sure you have EVERYTHING you might possibly need. Something Joe learned from Alfred Eisenstadt... It does you no good if it's back at the studio.

Labels: ,

posted by Brad @ 5:45 PM,


At June 10, 2008 at 8:06 PM, Blogger Luca said...


Well I'm sure that we're not the only ones who have done this.

BTW: I would love to read you blogging about what gets packed when going on a shoot. Like what gear/grip is in your standard kit.

At June 10, 2008 at 8:57 PM, Blogger Brad said...

luca -
one of the things on my to do list is to add a gear page to joe's blog. there really is no "standard kit" for us, per se. every job is different, so we pick and choose from joe's massive arsenal of gear. the only things that i would say for sure come on every single shoot are cameras and lenses... other than that, it always varies!

i'll post a link to the page when i get around to setting it up.

At June 11, 2008 at 12:46 AM, Blogger Timothy said...

Hey Brad-

First off, Congrats on the new blog, I caught first wind of it on Scott Kelbys blog a few days ago, came over and wound up at your flickr. I really loved the redwoods macro stuff, a very cool view on things we see all the time. The colors and DOF are awesome.

Today I checked in at Scott's blog and Joe's blog and they are both giving you the plug, so yeah - good luck and I look forward to reading all about it.

I just saw you guys when Joe did his book reading thing at Adorama in NYC last month, I was the big bearded guy who, like a jerk, asked Joe if he was hiring...

Anyway, its awesome to get your vantage point on the photography world. Its one that you don't get to read too much of. I traveled as a Sound Guy and a Guitar Tech for a number of years so I have a lot of respect for the "talent behind the talent"...

I know you are probably super busy but if you ever get a second I would love to ask you a couple questions about your photography and how you went about getting to where you are in your career.

Thanks Brad,


At June 11, 2008 at 2:26 PM, Anonymous Richard Cave said...

Always pack a CF card in your wallet, this little nugget of advice has saved me twice!

Cool blog and I love the images,


At June 12, 2008 at 7:21 AM, Blogger Rnormfoto said...

Hey Brad - nice to see you started a blog. I attended the Yellowstone workshop in January---we spoke some as I live in CT too

At June 13, 2008 at 9:06 AM, Anonymous Rich C said...

Thanks for sharing! Just rechecked my packs for a trip to a ranch here in AZ. Got everything as of last night.......

Why do I want to recheck my pack now? :)

Glad to see your new blog!

At June 16, 2008 at 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad your blogging kid, ya got talent, for sure!!

You've made another mistake however, I MAKE the most mistakes, more then ANYONE.....

Keep it up and wishing you the best.

Hey, ask Joe when he's going to shoot me, just say, Tom with MS.


At June 18, 2008 at 1:57 AM, OpenID brittneymoore said...

we're all human, and we all suck sometimes. then we learn not to suck so bad.

after reading this post and then scrolling down to look at your pictures, i can say that i'm proud you're my brother. not only are you an amazing photographer, but you are humble and man enough to admit you make mistakes, too.

and that makes you an amazing person.

At July 9, 2008 at 10:24 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

Being honest and up front about your mistakes says a lot about your character. This helps you learn and being vocal about it helps your readers as well.

Being systematic is key and from the story it is evident that you had a good system, just not followed. I do stuff like that ALL the time, go to all the trouble of organizing how something works and then never implement the developed plan.


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