I get asked how I do pretty much everything, so I have decided to share my process, from start to finish, of a shoot. In this example, it is a shoot I am doing at Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India.
The first step in my process is a shot list and location.
A shot list is a basically a photography shopping list, a list of the images you want to take. Mainly linked to wedding/event/product photography, where particular 'money shots' are required, they are useful for any genre of photography. The premise behind the list for me is to make me pre-visualise, and was the foundation behind my photography logic-loop. I would recommend that you all make a 'shot list' before heading out anywhere for photography, it will help you narrow down what are the key and important pics you want, which might ultimately direct the shoot.
So whats the link with location? Simple, if a leopard up a tree yawning is on your shot list, then you need to go to a location with leopards! :P It can also work in reverse, you know you are going to go somewhere so you make a list around what you want to take there.
In my case, it is a bit of both. I wanted to go to take images of tigers in central India. Bandhavgarh has one of the highest concentrations of tigers, so now I will come up with a shot list for this specific location. What makes this shoot a little different is that we have full-day access to the park, as opposed to the normal AM and PM entry.
The basis around the shot list is to make sure you have all the clicks you want to tell the story you want. In this instance, there is no strict dialogue I want to say, but to be able to show anyone who sees my images what it is like there. What the fauna and flora is like, the landscape and where tigers fit in to it. So with this in mind, I want to get the following images.
In wildlife you don't always get much time so at the least you want a 'record shot'. once this is achieved, you can move onto other aspects. Also, because this is my first time at this park, any sightings are the first i would have here, so i want to make sure i have a record shot of what I see, just for me! So once I have these done and dusted, I am going to focus more on the primary target of this shoot... Tigers, and the story around them.
Like in the movies, you need a setting, to show people where the action is taking place. Landscapes are perfect for this. I want to shoot all the different kinds areas I will see in the park. Landscapes are not only wide sweeping vistas, they are also tight shots of details, all adding to the setting of the story.
Given the amazing images I’ve seen come out of the park, I am hoping for some fantastic close encounters… fingers crossed! So I want to get some nice tight head shots if possible.
Now, to place the subject in the landscape. Having nice shots of tigers is one thing, but I really like environmental shots, where the subject is just part of the image and not the whole thing. It directly links the landscape and portrait shots. I want to show how the tigers ‘fit’ into the environment.
It is very easy to make static images of wildlife, as we often use a high shutter-speed. I want to try and create some images of movement, to add another dimension to my story. This is something I am lacking with all of my current tiger shots, I have yet to see a tiger in action, and I hoping to get lucky with this trip!
I also want to shoot any interesting behaviours I see such as mating, playing, hunting, marking etc... In short, I will be keeping an eye out for anything other than a walking or sleeping tiger! :)