A week in the life of a freelance photographer

As a freelance photographer I often have the feeling that the job I am currently working on will be my last, at least for awhile.  I also go through stretches when I am so busy that it feels like I won’t be able to accomplish all that I have taken on.  This is the dilemma that we go through as freelancers.  “Feast of famine”, “When it rains it pours”, “Make hay while the sun shines”.  These cliches creep into our conversations, they litter my thought processes and while all of this is true there is still no job I would rather have.  I love the rush I get when I’m working 15 hour days for multiple days in a row.  I thrive on the controlled chaos of managing three different projects at the same time.  Then there is the possibility of some great project just showing up in your inbox or the last minute text message that refocuses your energy and renews the passion.

I just completed a long stretch of daily shooting, 12 of 14 days, some days being quite long.  I survived and even created some decent images and now I know a little bit better how to manage a stressful schedule.  Let’s look at one week in this stretch of work.  Seven days in a row of photography work, six different projects and six different locations all in San Francisco.

Saturday, January 25th at 9:00 am at San Francisco International Airport:

The brand new terminal 3 is opening to the public and the SFJAZZ High School All-Star band is playing as part of the celebration.  This is a small job and I shoot for a couple of hours while the band performs for the community.

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From SFO I race up to Moscone Center where I am starting a 4 day project photographing a conference on medical simulation.  The IMSH brings together thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospital administrators to learn about and practice on the latest medical simulation technologies.  This is fascinating stuff with mannequins that breathe and have severed limbs all so that medical professionals can practice before they need to work on a real emergency.  I shoot a lot of Industry Conferences and as far as they go this one was pretty cool with some amazing technology to photograph.

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Saturday was not over yet and while I still had many days left of IMSH I had one more job at night.  The UC Davis College of Engineering was hosting an annual awards dinner at the St. Francis Yacht Club which is where I headed next.  Awards dinners are not very exciting to photograph, lots of people standing around and talking, dinner and of course the awards presentations.  UC Davis calls from time to time when they are having alumni events if the Bay area or need a portrait for a campus publication, tonight it was dinner and I was a few minutes late due to the other jobs of the day.  When I arrived the sun was setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge and I got to work.

UC Davis

The next few days were spent working on IMSH at Moscone Center.  More stage presentations and exhibit hall photographs with daily edits being done at night.  On Tuesday night, January 28th I photographed the San Francisco Waldorf High school Eurythmy performance.  I won’t try to explain what it is but I’ll show you a pretty picture.

SFWHS Eurythmy Performance

I was dragging on wednesday morning when I arrived at Moscone Center for the final day of IMSH.  It was a short day, just a few hours in the morning but I started another conference that afternoon at the Parc 55 Hotel.  After finishing around 11:30 I treated myself to an acupuncture session at Yerba Buena Community Acupuncture and I was refreshed and ready to go.  Optical Document Security is not sexy and it is not visually interesting either.  However, it is impressive to hear about the many different technologies that go into to safeguarding currency around the globe from counterfeiters.  Those holograms and color shifting numbers do not happen without some intense brain power. I love being a fly on the wall in these rooms that I have no business being in other than the camera hanging from my shoulder.

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As ODS 2014 wrapped up on Thursday evening I was looking forward to a much needed rest and the upcoming weekend was free of any work commitments other than some editing.  Thank you Cory Barlow for all your help in that department.  I met a couple of friends for a drink and that is when the week got flipped around.  It is always nice to know people with friends in the restaurant business, especially 5 star restaurants.  When we walked into Fleur de Lys and received a house special cocktail I knew the night would be fun.  After appetizers and a short walk down the street we were treated to a DJ set spun by Chef Hubert Keller at the Starlight Room.  I had to grab my camera for this one.

Chef Keller and Marcus Garcia at Starlight Room

Let me rewind a bit.  I said I was looking forward to some much needed rest and a weekend off.  During our snack at Fleur de Lys I received a text message from Marshall Lamm publicist for SFJAZZ asking if I could photograph Dave Chappelle that weekend.  I said yes.  Sometimes rest has to wait and when a project arrives to balance out the mundane shooting of some other jobs it is a gift.  The photography business is tough most of the time, but sometimes everything just falls into place.  Six shows over three nights with Dave Chappelle and an incredible list of friends was the project I needed to close out a hectic and beautiful week.

Dave Chappelle at SFJAZZ

For more on Dave Chappelle at SFJAZZ check out http://www.scottchernis.com/data/web/Dave_Chappelle_Gallery/index.html

For more on Scott Chernis Photography check out http://www.scottchernis.com

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The Bay has been teeming with activity in preparation for the America’s Cup World Series in San Francisco.  http://www.americascup.com/en/events

I plan on documenting the events of the America’s Cup over the next 13 months and this practice session on Wednesday is the first glimpse.

Stay tuned http://www.scottchernis.com

Golden Gate Bridge Turns 75

When I first moved to San Francisco in 1995 I would photograph everything, but it was not until I spied the bridge through the Waldo Tunnel heading south toward San Francisco that I thought abut photographing it.  I actually walked into the tunnel a few days later with my camera on a tripod, balancing on 6 inches of curb while cars whizzed past at 60 mph.  I believe I got off three frames before I heard the police sirens.  The image was not worth the $50.00 ticket, but the story still takes me back to a time of black and white film and youthful naivete.  Over the years I have photographed the Golden Bridge in a casual way and I have collected a sample of images to share in celebration of 75 years and still standing.

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from China Beach

No on 209 march across the Golden Gate Bridge

A ship travels under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from Fort Point

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from north parking lot

A heart left on the Golden Gate Bridge

On the Golden Gate Bridge looking up

View from the Marin Headlands

Portrait of Tom Kiely for California Meetings and Events Magazine

Night time view from Marin headlands

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point with a fisheye lens

Golden Gate Bridge last night before the fireworks

Golden Gate Bridge at start of fireworks show

Last night the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years

Last night the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years

Last night the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years

For more work from Scott Chernis please visit http://www.scottchernis.com

Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael offers a sneak peak during casual opening

Phil Lesh and his many friends played an intimate show for around 200 people tonight at the new music club and restaurant, Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, CA.  This soft opening tonight in the lounge is the start of a music filled March with a run of 12 shows in the Grate room with Phil Lesh and Friends to close out the month.  I was fortunate to be inside tonight to photograph the festivities.

Opening Night at Terrapin CrossroadsOpening Night at Terrapin CrossroadsOpening Night at Terrapin CrossroadsOpening Night at Terrapin CrossroadsOpening Night at Terrapin CrossroadsOpening Night at Terrapin Crossroadswww.scottchernis.com

Traveling the World with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (without leaving Honolulu)

Dedicated photojournalists log countless hours in airports and hotels, while documenting the often mundane details of the world’s leaders.  This is not my job description.  On a recent assignment for The Department of State, covering APEC Leaders’ Week in Hawaii, I got a glimpse into what it would be like to work in this manner.  I was assigned to cover Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for three days while she held bi-lateral meetings, gave speeches, hosted dinners and attended many other events.  In fact I got to travel around the world with The Secretary of State without leaving Honolulu.  Our first stop was the East West Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii, where Secretary Clinton met with Pacific Island Country Leaders and gave a speech to a large and enthusiastic crowd.  It was en route to this location in the motorcade, complete with secret service and a police escort,  that I realized this job was unlike any other I had done before.

Secretary Clinton at East West Center

The rest of the day was consumed with Bi-Lateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan, China and The President of Vietnam.  Shooting these meetings is fast and a bit unrewarding as the press is allowed in at the top of the meeting for a quick handshake photo-op and out the door we go.

Bi-Lateral meetings with Australia, China, Japan and Vietnam

From the final meeting with the president of Japan we traveled to Shangri-la, the mansion built by Doris Duke to house and preserve her Islamic Art Collection.  A dinner reception was being held for trade ministers from APEC economies.

Secretary Clinton receives a private tour of the art collection at Shangri-la

The next day we got to work early and spent the day in meetings, in a press conference, at the CEO Summit and finally back at Shangri-la for another dinner, this time with The Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo.  The dinner was prepared by Iron Chef Morimoto.

The Foreign Ministers Breakfast at The hawaii Convention Center

Secretary Clinton at The CEO Summit

Back at Shangri-la with Iron Chef Morimoto and The Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo

The final day in my 3 day assignment with Secretary Clinton was a long and slow one spent primarily waiting around the hotel for my photo-op.  Only 4 meetings were held and that means I had a total of less than ten minutes of actual photography work in a day that began at 8:00 and ended at 6:00.  It was all worth it though, with a priceless moment during the last meeting with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.  The sun was setting so the shot was at least a bit interesting when out of nowhere comes a man running, presumably on his way to the luau complete with torch.  The security was nowhere to be seen.

www.scottchernis.com

A Day With The White House Press Pool

4 a.m wake up

5 a.m arrive at Hawaii Convention Center for security sweep

6 a.m secret service and dogs check all camera bags

7 a.m load buses to JW Marriott

8 a.m arrive JW Marriott

9 a.m move to first photo location APEC Leaders’ Meeting

10:30 photo spray at top of meeting

President Obama greets world leaders at APEC Leaders’ Meeting

11 a.m return to press hold to edit and upload images

1 p.m press pool moves to second photo location

2:30 p.m Leaders arrive for group photo

APEC Leaders gather for “Family Photo”

2:45 p.m return to press hold to edit and upload images

4:00 p.m move to third photo location for concluding press conference

5:00 p.m President Obama arrives for press conference

President Obama arrives for press conference

6:00 p.m setting sun frames President Obama as he concludes his press conference

President Obama concludes his press conference

6:30 p.m return to press hold to pack up gear

7:00 p.m board buses back to Honolulu

8:00 p.m arrive International Media Center at Hawaii Convention Center to edit and upload images

9:30 p.m quick dinner

11:00 bedtime

This was the final day of APEC Leaders’ Week in Hawaii and it was a long and exhausting experience, but one that I will not soon forget.
www.scottchernis.com

Landing the big one

As a young photographer, just out of college and idealistic enough to believe that my love of music was enough to have a career as a music photographer, I loved to look at books by established photographers.  The first book I remember spending a lot of time with was “Photo Diary” by Lynn Goldsmith.  This chronicle of her adventures with musicians on various shoots from the mid-seventies to the late eighties hooked me and I loved it.  The stories are insightful and allowed me a glimpse into a world I only dreamed about.  One story that has stuck with me over the years involves Bob Dylan and an assignment that she received in 1976.  Lynn tells the story better than I do so I will use her words here,

“But I never really experienced what it meant to be a professional photographer until I got a call late one night in 1976 to come down to Secret Studio to photograph Bob Dylan and Bette Midler.  I grabbed my cameras and hopped in a cab.  I was so excited I started talking to myself, saying over and over, ‘I’m going to shoot Dylan, Bob Dylan!’  The driver heard me and pulled over.  He told me to get out of his cab, he didn’t want to drive ‘no assassins’.

Many photographers use this term ‘shoot’ to describe the act of making pictures but in today’s world it is best to change the verb under certain circumstances.  This morning I received a similar call and an assignment that makes me very excited.  When I step into the cab and head to the airport on Sunday I will only say, “I am off to Hawaii to photograph the President of the United States, Barack Obama.”

For more information or images visit www.scottchernis.com