Shoot with Intention

Shortly after the 2011 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon a friend of mine asked me Do you just go around and take random photos?’  I smiled and replied  ‘very little of what we shoot is random.’

It really doesn’t matter if you are shooting on assignment, freelance, as part of an event, or even a portrait – planning is the key!  For 2011 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (MTCM), we had:

  • Six photographers;
  • One photo assistant;
  • One photo coordinator;
  • Four videographers; and
  • Twelve moto drivers.

Clearly, I cannot tell the photographers, hey guys – go get some great shots and see me at the media tent when you are finished!  The odds are we would have had some great shots, but getting what we needed would have been purely coincidental.

Each year for MTCM begins with an early season planning meeting with the marathon director and marketing/ communications department to talk about areas or topics they would like to visually highlight.

From there, I develop an initial shot list and location list. In addition to shooting at the race, I also fill the role of Director of Photography and my job is to make sure that I meet the visual communications needs of my client. Besides, as the great philosopher Yogi Berra said ‘If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up someplace else!’ If you want to have a successful shoot and relationship, you must take the time to find out what your client really needs.

Ultimately our 2011 MTCM Photo/Moto Plan was 23 pages long. Not only did our plan include locations, but by necessity also included when the photographer had to arrive, how long should they stay and their preferred routing. Access via moto is critical and each photographer and driver work as a team to get to the right spots, at the right time and without undue stress. This job is supposed to be fun, we love it and believe that our passion shows through in our work.

I pick locations where our photographers will have opportunities to get great shots. Locations with great backgrounds, lighting, and crowds. Locations that will give the runners an opportunity to look good and where there is a probability of something dramatic about to happen. I am not trying to restrict the creativity of our photographers. I am trying to give them the best resources to allow them to do their best work, and as luck would have it, they always do!

Shooting with intention is not only understanding what story you are trying to tell, but also how to tell the story in a manner that will visually engage your viewer – the key question is how!  Some of the questions to keep in mind include, but are not limited to:

    • Is there a local iconic backgrounds that convey the beauty of the venue?
    • Is there an opportunity to put a remote camera in a place where a photographer cannot go?
    • Is there a personality of the event that can be visually conveyed?
    • Is there an emotional presence that will come from the crowd as opposed to from the field of play?
    • Can we use a long lens to make eye contact with the athletes?
    • Will viewing our images encourage people to want to participate in next year’s event, as an athlete, volunteer or a sponsor?

Remember you are telling a story and you want to engage the viewer.

We shot over 16,000 images during the weekend of events (all raw). We delivered approximately 2,600 images to our client. Most importantly we had 3 images for the rotating banner of their home page before the end of the race and approximately 30 captioned high res images available for media download by 6:00 pm. In a later post, I will review my work flow.

Here are just a few images from what was a visually spectacular day.

Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile – USATF National Championship

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Check back soon for our next post – The Importance of Bio-Mechanics

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