Diary of a Shoot, Day 7 — Rollercoaster Ride

Telluride 7.1

Reviewing dailies with AD Jason. We like what we see, but we'd both rather be outside shooting.

From cloud 9 to the basement. Yesterday’s epic adventure whipped a 180 again today… If yesterday was chocolate cake, today was chopped liver. Reason being, we were completely shut out. Blanked. Skunked. As in zero photos, zero video footy. Didn’t even get the camera outta the bag.

Mother nature can giveth, but she can also taketh away. For continuity issues with footage and stills shot earlier in the week, we’re now in need of sunshine. And that sunshine is nowhere to be seen. We awoke to the flattest, murkiest weather. Socked in gray. Down side of that is we’re again behind in our schedule.

If there is an upside, it’s that we get to further dial in production related details for the remaining images AND some more time for reviewing dailies. From 10am-12noon my crew liaises with Matt the client data guru to ensure all the files from yesterday are ready for quick and easy viewing. Noon to 1 is AD Jason and I reviewing footage and stills. We’re finding gems and looking for missing assets and preparing for a meeting with Jason’s boss and the client’s strategic marketing leadership team who have just flown in to check out the shoot. That begins right on time at 1pm. Universal agreement – the work from yesterday is gold.

But there is still work to be done. Only hiccup is that Mother Nature isn’t having it right now…

Telluride 7.2

Production meeting, canceling the evening shoot on account of severe weather.

The heavy overcast turns into heavy snow. The heaviest we’ve seen yet. Under normal circumstances we’re celebrating great snow conditions. Today, however, when we need sun, we are not. We are glued to all of our weather sources and the windows of the hotel, overlooking the streets of Telluride. One report we get tells us of more 70mph winds at our location. Another report alerts us that they’re closing several lifts on the mountain for high wind warnings. It’s now 2pm – it’s a complete blizzard outside — we’d been planning on hitting our location at 430 to prepare for some luscious evening light, but all these signs are dissuasive. We call a full scale production meeting to discuss and what comes out of that meeting is the decision to pull the ripcord on the plans for evening light.

2 hours later, the skies open up. Not a cloud in sight. Perfect blue sky. But it’s too late for us to scramble together even a light/fast crew, let alone the whole lot of us. We’ve already told the resort we’re off for the day – no safety or support staff available, no special late access to the mountain is available.


Professionally speaking, this decision was the right one given all the info we had. All the stakeholders looked at the data and the weather outside (it was still dumping snow and blowing 40mph when we called it) and our thousands of previous experiences/decisions just like this one to made this call. It happens, it’s part of the job, and nobody can see the future. On paper it was the right one – we’d all make that call again. But…

But inside my little brain, I can’t help but wishing we were up there nailing it. Putting the finishing touches on the great work we’ve already got in the can… It kills me a little bit inside. Mother nature once again reminds us who is boss. I’m not sure what the lesson is here, other than despite the fact that we do this sort of thing 20 times a year doesn’t remove the emotions from the script. It’s of course part of the professional aspect of it all to be intentional and deliberate, but it’s human to bummed when you miss a weather window. That will never change.

The rest of the afternoon is filled with re-designing the schedule (again!), fine tuning the gear and the plans and trying to keep up with the other things we’ve all got going back home. There are spouses who finally get a call home, other work emails that get sent, maybe even a nap or two. The crew goes out for dinner in a few medium size groups – and a few more than one drink goes down to put our mind on some other things besides the unpredictable weather. It turns into a late one. I’ll leave it at that.

Call time tomorrow is a comfy 9:45. Must sleep.

29 Responses to Diary of a Shoot, Day 7 — Rollercoaster Ride

  1. chris March 26, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    love the blog keep it up!

  2. Jim Denham March 26, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    Even the best laid plans can not account for Mother Nature’s hand. I’m sure the decision was correct Chase! safety first my friend! You guys will kick it up once God plays through!

  3. CallumW March 26, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    Perhaps you had this quieter day for a reason… letting you recharge your batteries a bit before a full-on assault in the following days :)


  4. Anna March 26, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    Hey Chase,
    I LOVE your blog and just dropped by and read all of your diary of a shoot entries in a row again.
    Sucks that you’re having crappy weather at the moment, hope it gets better tomorrow and I can’t can’t can’t wait to see the pics!!!!!! :)

  5. Shane Srogi March 26, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    What will the weather do? The age old question for photographers. What you describe I think all photographers can relate to. Calling it was the right thing of course but I can remeber every time that the weather went into amazing mode and I was half way home. Good luck with the rest of the shoot.

  6. Isaac Hinds March 26, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Love the diary. I know it’s not easy and often the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day. Now if we can just get you to eat healthier, you’ll be rock’n. LOL.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. James March 26, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    It’s not how you got knocked down; but how you recover that makes you the top pro you are. One day at a time One decision at a time.

  8. Panos March 26, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Still what matters is you getting through it perfectly well done and thats what makes a difference from other pros that stop thinking and finding solutions and give up… u dont… keep posting!

  9. Nate geslin March 26, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    ‘The sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour’

  10. Rob March 26, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    I feel another epic day coming………….

  11. Julian from Romania March 26, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    I get so motivated when reading your blog, I like the fact that you are organised and plan everything. I get a lot of ideas from reading this and feel like I’m part of the adventure.

    Thanks a lot!

  12. jetgreen1 March 26, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    The pics that all are wanting to see may very well get to wait until REI’s Fall/Winter 2011/12 campaign. I believe that all that content is belonging to the REI folks and they don’t need any spoilers! Perhaps they shoot tons of stuff that isn’t in that contract package and a few of those are on the way.

  13. Laurie LeBlanc March 26, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    You and the crew must have been in disbelief when the blue skies decided to make an appearance. What can you do? Make the best of it and plan (ha ha) for tomorrow. Hope the weather takes a positive turn today for you!

  14. Ted McAusher March 26, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    I’m gonna keep my fingers crossed for you and your team.

  15. Brett Flashnick March 26, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Chase. Thanks for taking the time to share all of these insights. I really dig reading them while sipping on my morning cup ‘o coffee. In the past year I have started to make a transition in my career from photojournalism to corporate/advertising. Its been a bit of a learning curve, and this series of posts brings up an issue that I still have a lot to learn about, (dealing with large cast and crew). As a PJ there are no assistants (well maybe one assistant for a higher end editorial shoot), asset managers, producers, ADs, etc… involved. The largest crew/cast I’ve had the chance to work with yet on the advertising side of things added up to a massive 10 people including myself, and even at that level I was finding myself a little stressed having to act both as photographer and producer. Your mention of not being able to wrangle a small/light crew to take advantage of a weather window really struck me.

    It seems to me there are benefits and draw backs to both large/small crews. When you have some time I would love to hear how you managed this before having your own in-house producer and other staff, as well as insights on the benefits of shared work load of a larger crew vs. the agility and ability to adapt and go guerilla style of a smaller crew. I completely realize with a client/project like this, a small crew probably isn’t an option. Would also love to hear if you have a preference in working with a small crew vs. big crew.

    Thanks again for taking time to share all of this info.

  16. Costas March 26, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Brett has already expressed my thoughts exactly.
    I am also used to working alone or with a very small crew, and I find it very strange having to figure out large-scale logistics and arrangements,

    One thing for sure: if I had so much work to do, I wouldn’t have the energy and willpower to sit and write a long blog post every night, so thank you Chase!!

    (by the way, my advice for any delays: as they say in the army, when you find any chance at all, grab some sleep and some food, because you never know when you will find another chance)

  17. Dmitry March 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Chase, in any case need to look for the positives! Though the weather and does not indulge but maybe it gives you time to rest and something to rethink! The main thing is not discouraged. Everything will be fine!

    so can someone of you will be clear!

    Чейз, в любом деле нужно искать положительные стороны! Хоть погода и не балует но возможно она дает вам время передохнуть и что-то переосмыслить! Главное не падать духом. Все будет хорошо!

  18. Mathieu Wauters March 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    As you indicate Chase, making the right decision doesn’t mean we can’t feel bummed about having to make it. The mere fact that emotion is and remains involved next to the script and your experience displays the passion with which you work. Keeping my fingers crossed for you guys!

  19. DanielKphoto March 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    I can understand that it hurts on the inside.. Good luck next days!

  20. Anne-Marie March 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for perfect weather again, and soon! Because if anyone deserves it, it’s you!

  21. Kim Long March 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I’ve made calls to cancel due to weather only to have the weather turn for the better several times. No matter how many times you’ve experienced it, it’s never a good feeling. It also doesn’t matter what you’re doing. Some of those calls were cancelling music performances at our favorite outdoor venues. It’s raining heavily with no patch of blue in sight, and with only 1.5 hours left until downbeat, it feels safe to call it off. Of course, an hour later, the sky clears up like someone literally just cut a hole in the clouds, but by then it’s too late to call everyone back and load up equipment (unloading/setting up in 30 minutes is doable, but not packing/moving/unloading/setting up).

    Good luck tomorrow!

    P.S. I think it would be great if you wrote a post about dressing for epic shoots like this.

  22. Will March 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Sending you guys white light and positive energy.

  23. Nick March 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Hey man, Lovin these diary posts. Glad you finally have some time to sleep… looking forward to hearing about the rest of this shoot.

  24. katie March 27, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    This project budget is blowing my mind! can’t wait to see the pics. This is a great read. ENJOY it all!!! x

  25. fas March 27, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Love the update, I hope we get all such updates on all shoots.

  26. Lacy Dagerath March 27, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Ahh! In times like that it is so hard to not be discouraged…but Please… Don’t be discouraged!! :D You guys are fearless, talented leaders in our industry… and it is so great to see that there are obstacles to overcome on a daily basis… even if it holds up production… Maybe everyone learns the most from times like these… I have no idea how you are reading all of these comments lol but I wanted to share my thoughts. :) Yall are awesome!

  27. Jesus Hidalgo March 28, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    At some point in one of my replies I said, this blog is like a good book that you can’t put down, and it remains true today, the only thing I would add to that is, that this is no book, it’s reality, and I feel very sorry that the plans had to be altered to give way to nobody else than “Mother Nature”. I can feel the emotion in this post, and certainly not a very uplifting one.
    Chase, I know it’s easier said than done but, think about this, just picture how beautiful the whole landscape is going to look after all that snow, it’s going to be epic, so think positive and take this moment to charge your batteries because what’s coming is going to be amazing. Beautiful weather+beautiful scenery+great talent = Amazing results! So think positive and stay focused. We all are rooting for you!

  28. bimal nair March 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    what you wrote just made me feel “the boss is always the boss, no matter who it is” :)
    For me, it happens almost everytime that i find myself in the same mental state as you do on a particular day you post something :)
    Cheers Chase!


  1. Diary of a Commercial Shoot, Day 8 - Shut Down Again | Chase Jarvis Blog - March 27, 2011

    […] Mother Nature pulled a fast one on us… Today we planned on having none of it so we were up early, atop the mountain and we literally sat […]

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