Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad. 5 Tips to Save the Day
Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad or Video Production internationally abroad is a great feeling. You’ve secured the assignment with your client and you can’t wait to let everybody know that know that your reputation is deemed worthy of working over-seas. The whole process of ‘Paid’ International Photography is something that many photographers never get to feel, but if you are about to Shoot Abroad for the first time, then the 5 Must Know Tips below, will help you to plan your assignment and prevent some of the pitfalls that come with Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad.
When it all goes wrong!
Why have we put this blog together? In September 2019, we undertook an assignment in Switzerland for a client which had all the haul marks of what can go wrong when Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad, before you even reach your destination. As a professional Photography who was fortunate enough to win Travel Photographer of the Year in 2013, we are experienced with Shooting Photography Abroad. Nonetheless, unforeseen problems happen. To find out more about how we worked around our shoot to deliver for our client, please click the link HERE.
Number 1. Insurance
As a professional photographer, we’re sure (hope) that you will already have Insurance in place. After all, this is essential for any business. Equipment Insurance, Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers Liability are all necessary to protect your business and equipment both at home and when Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad. The chances of losses and problems occurring are multiplied considerable when working abroad, so taking out the right policy with a reputable company is invaluable. You may be operating without insurance as a business, but commercial clients are likely to be reluctant to engage a professional photographer that doesn’t have insurance in place. Many policies will cover you for a limited timespan working overseas. Don’t undervalue your kit because if you do value it under it’s worth and it’s stolen, you will be very heavily out of pocket. Three well known Camera Insurance Companies that offer great products are;
Adukki – Specialist insurance that including equipment cover and liability insurances
Towergate – As of 2019, my own Insurance company of choice. Towergate offer an All-risks cover for professional photographers and videographers. Towergate’s Camerasure insurance products are pitched primarily at freelance photographers and videographers, as well as those performing similar roles within multimedia institutions (If you’re travelling abroad for a shoot and can’t stash all your camera gear in your hand luggage, you’ll be pleased to know it also covers damage to kit stored in the aircraft hold. Cover also extends to potential legal liabilities to customers, employees and the general public, as one would expect of a pro policy.
PhotoGuard – Many policies will cover you for up to a certain amount of time overseas. If you’re exceeding this, make sure to let them know or else if something happens to your equipment, it’s bye-bye bank balance as you fork out for a new one.
Number 2. Checklists
This is a simple and invaluable Tip for Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad. How many time have you turned up at a job and realised that you’ve forgotten the really important cable that is specifically designed for a piece of equipment you own and it’s stopped you undertaking your assignment. You’ve perhaps arrived on a video shoot and your hard drive is full of 4K raw footage from your previous shoot and there’s no room on your Macbook. Perhaps you’ve not taken enough flash cards and you’ve forgotten to download the original images on the one 128GB card in your camera. These may sound ridiculous but I can assure you that these are problems that have plagued photographers for years and will continue to do so. Make a checklist that covers every single aspect of equipment from start to finish. Document your equipment and what needs to be checked before you pack your kit. Confirm the pre work is complete and use a separate column to ensure it’s packed. Packing your Macbook away and leaving the charger in the wall isn’t an option once you’re on the plane. Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad needs a logistical head and preparation.
Number 3. Airlines
How you travel and what you take when Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad can have a great impact on your overheads and can even make the difference between a client choosing you for an assignment, over using a photographer based in their own country. For examples, Hold Baggage can cost hundreds of pounds for an extra case, particularly on smaller aircraft. Therefore, planning the MUST TAKE equipment against the WOULD LIKE TO TAKE. When packing your kit, ensure your hand luggage bag meets the required sizing and that your case weight is not over. Budget airlines particularly, have the most ridiculous sizing limits for hand luggage to the point where we often wrap our camera and strategically place into an Ortleib Airflex Daypack, which is a waterproof very small backpack but it fits pretty much all cabin luggage requirements. Airlines will take great pleasure in charging extortionate fees for overweight cases and when you’re at the check-in desk without the option to throw away any items from your case, you will have little choice but to stump up the cash. If our assignments are for a short duration, it’s often work incorporating your camera bag inside your suitcase with a tripod (remove the head and pack this separately) alongside your clothing back.
Where possible, we keep at least one camera, lens, Macbook, chargers, hard drive and flash cards in our cary on luggage. Certain airlines are really strict on allowing camera batteries and this was a factor in own problems encountered during a recent international assignment.
Number 4: Plan Your Contingencies
When Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad, planning is a must but as hard as you try it’s impossible to account for every eventuality. If you have serious issues, kit malfunctions or your Checklists haven’t been properly completed and you’ve forgotten to take a necessary piece of equipment, it’s good to know your options for sourcing replacements or renting equipment. The deeper you venture into third world countries, the less likely you are to find replacements. If you’re shooting in a major city, then compiling a list of the best rental stores and well placed camera and electrical retailers can save you a lot of headaches and lost time on location.
Number 5: Allow Time For Everything and Be Prepared
Allowing sufficient time when Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad is so important. Remember to be realistic and think that if it’s your first time in a strange country, you may very well have language and communication barriers, territory will be unfamiliar and you need to take into account, local logistical problems including traffic jams, inconsistent public transport, getting lost and a different pace in life. Always allow yourself some extra time. Don’t confuse Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad with having a jolly and expecting to be out shooting tourism images like you’re on holiday. If that’s your view on working abroad, it may not be for you. Being away on an assignment can sometimes be a tricky one, particularly if it’s not something we do that often. Your priority as a professional Photographer is completing the assignment for your client, earning a living and delivering high quality images with a view to getting repeat business and building your reputation as an International business. Shooting Commercial Photography Abroad doesn’t allow for re shoots a couple of weeks later if you run out of time so your timescales need be realistic and achievable. It’s not uncommon to visit a country, shoot your assignment and never actually get to enjoy the place yourself. Depending on the turnaround time, it’s not uncommon to spend evenings editing until the early hours of the morning before grabbing a few hours sleep and starting all over again. You should perform to the best of your ability and hopefully, scheduling in some down time should allow for at least a few hours travel photography and local culture while you;re away. If things do change on the ground just remember it’s better to do a few things well than everything poorly!