Trevor Clark (www.trevorclarkphoto.com) was recently highlighted in Photo District News (PDN) for his use of off-camera lighting in his adventure and outdoor photography. Trevor seems to be the quintessential on-the-road and shooting-all-the-time kind of photographer. He lives in Lake Tahoe and uses a beefed up 4x4 Sportsmobile converted van/studio to travel and work with around North America. He has dedicated his life to documenting the people, places, and activities that inspire him, whether it's sea kayaking in Prince William Sound, Alaska, standup paddleboarding at Great Falls of the Potomac, carving fresh backcountry lines in the West or dropping waterfalls in Mexico. Trevor recently took a trip to the Yukon territory, and today, he shares his experience learning about the value of teamwork in the world of photography.
As an adventure photographer, or any photographer, you are an assignment-shooting, personal-project-generating, dot-connecting, social-media-updating, blog-writing, creative-directing, marketing-campaigning, photo-editing, stock-prepping, deadline-making, IT-departmenting, finance-managing, logistics-planning, bag-packing, gear-sorting maniac. And that’s just the business end. Most of those tasks are usually performed in transit to or from somewhere with limited access to internet and communications.
For most of us, we are a one-man or one-woman business. That is just how it is until you reach a point where you can or want to expand. You ARE that Lone Wolf reference we have all heard, and, in a lot of cases, you need to be in order to shoot the job/story/project well.
With advances in technology and higher demand for both still images and video, more and more still photographers are jumping into the video realm. That is great, and it is certainly a new challenge for all of us who have traditionally thought and worked in still images. It requires a complete mental overhaul on what works versus what doesn’t, including how we work.
Of everything I am learning in the video realm, the biggest lesson, by far, is that it no longer makes any sense to work alone. It’s a strange thing to think about at first because so many of us have built a high amount of confidence in ourselves through the risks we have taken and accomplishments we have achieved in seeing them through. We are used to relying on our wits and our general "do what you need to do to get it done" attitude. Let’s be honest—we even take pride in it. I know I do.
But sometimes it’s all just a little too much. Adding videographer, sound technician, multimedia editor, music specialist, and graphics creator to the aforementioned list is just too much. Everybody knows that when you try to do too many things at once, you simply cannot do everything—or perhaps anything—well.
Trust me, I have tried.
That’s why when a client gave me a call at the end of the summer asking for a video this time instead of images, I let it be known that it was not something I would take on by myself. I immediately called my good friend and multimedia partner in crime, Rachid Dahnoun, and we set about making all of the pieces come together.
We had both tried a number of our own solo video projects in the past and had been plotting a day when we would start working on projects together. Finally, collaboration and teamwork were taking place of the Lone Wolf approach as we also added the expertise of another good friend and fellow photographer/editor, Tommy Penick, to help out on the editing end.
We were Yukon bound to shoot a short promotional video to go along with Highlands & Islands Adventures Worldwide’s launch of their newest mountain biking destination.
Mountain biking, remote terrain, good people and lots to shoot. This project was right up our alley, and we were so excited about it that we didn’t even realize how quickly we fell into our own roles in the team we had created. Suddenly, we were able to focus on each task at hand and do so in a collaborative effort.
I could shoot a scenario wide while Rachid could shoot it long, or visa versa. We could discuss the areas we were riding and talk over reasons for shooting or moving on. We could scout and shoot at the same time. We could organize around each other to make the most efficient use of time. We could dissect our ideas with each other’s input. We could split up the larger, heavier amount of equipment needed to shoot video (read up on what we were riding and shooting with here and here).
In short, we could do A LOT more as a team.
Efficiency aside, I grew up on teams. I played soccer year-round for ten straight years. I love the camaraderie of being in a scenario with others, all working toward the same goal. It is energizing and reassuring, and I feel it pushes you beyond what you would be capable of on your own.
In the end, we shot and edited a short video that we were all proud of. It reached more than 20,000 views on the Highland’s & Islands’ Vimeo page in the first week, and the bookings for 2013 started filling up.
It was a job well done, and looking back on it all, I am positive that we would not have had the same outcome if I had attempted to pull this project off on my own. I would have worked myself into the ground (I already do), spent much more time on the back-end, and the final piece would have been far inferior to the piece we have now.
This was the first project for this trio, but I can guarantee it will not be the last. The Lone Wolf days are over.