Dean Riggott reached a new threshold as a photographer by landing a project bigger than he had managed before for Fujifilm Healthcare, for which he produced sleek images of laboratory and medical equipment during a video shoot produced by The Reserve Label. In preparation for the shoot, Dean practiced using a Fujifilm camera by photographing doctors and nurses while he stayed with his daughter for a couple nights in the hospital in their home state of Minnesota.
What was involved in planning/preproduction?
This was a big project with a lot of planning involved. There was one day that I spent 6 hours on video conference calls with people from the ad agency, production agency, film crew, as well as Fuji US and Fuji Japan. And because of the time difference, we had one 3 hour call at 6am and another 3 hour call at 6pm.
I honestly don’t travel out of Minnesota that often for shoots, so getting together a crew in New Jersey was a little stressful for me. I ended up on the WM website, though still wasn’t a member, and used the resources there to find a grip and digital tech out of NYC. I also hired a fabulous advertising photographer out of St. Louis named John Fedele to work as a consultant and second shooter. I had come across his work on Instagram just a few weeks earlier, loved his work, and knew he’d be a great fit for the job.
What were the shoots like?
Once in New Jersey we had a day of set-up and meeting at the location, which was the entire STEM building at Kean University. The place was basically converted into a hospital with new signage, medical equipment, waiting areas, beds, etc. We shot for three long days (10-12 hours) and it was a huge success. There must have been more than 100 people on set including producers, art directors, set people, prop people, makeup, hair, wardrobe, clients from the US and Japan, computer techs, Fujifilm software and sales techs, and so on. I’ll admit that I had never been part of such a big project, so it was a little overwhelming for me. But having John Fedele along who’s worked on big projects like this was a huge help.
I had to shoot most of it in a very small window. I was able to shoot between filming takes and again for a few minutes after each film shoot wrapped. Everything was very well planned, but on a tight schedule, so there was no chance of me spending 30-40 minutes with the talent on the set after the film crew finished with each set-up. So we had to know exactly what we were going to do as far as equipment and lighting and do it quick. For the three magazine ad shoots, which the film crew had nothing to do with, we would pull the models we needed aside for 30-60 minutes and get it done. We had to work quickly and efficiently. And while I’d be shooting one of the ads I’d have John Fedele off shooting on the next film set so nothing was missed.
Did you face any challenges with this project?
The biggest challenge for me was just coordinating a big shoot like this, lining-up a crew and figuring out the logistics, such as airfare, hotel, car, grips, digital-techs, equipment and so on. On top of all this I was told I had to shoot with a Fujifilm camera system, rather than the Nikon gear I’m familiar with and used to. So I had to look into what was available, rent it, have it shipped to me ahead of time and learn how to use it! To make matters even more stressful my youngest daughter ended-up in the hospital with a staph infection in a leg bone about four days before the shoot, so I spent the last few nights in the hospital with her. I had to practice using the Fujifilm GSX50s in the hospital room documenting the nurses and doctors working with my daughter, people visiting and so on.
Though being part of a project this big was new to you, did you enjoy the experience?
It was a fantastic experience and something I’ll never forget. Although it required much more planning and prep-work than I’m used to, it all came together nicely and everything went as smooth as I could have hoped for. I know there are many photographers who do big shoots like this on a regular basis and don’t think anything of it, but for me it was a new experience and was therefore a bit stressful and overwhelming. But I took it one step at a time and made sure I had done everything I could to be prepared. And so much of the work was done by the ad agency and production company that I really only had to worry about the photography side of things. And I had a great crew that helped things go so smoothly. And yes, I am definitely planning to pursue more work like this. I loved it! It was a very rewarding and satisfying experience. I learned a lot.
See more of Dean at riggottphoto.com.
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