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.

ODS_2014 515

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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Collecting URLs -No More Tear Sheets

I am not an old photographer, but I have been shooting long enough to have a file cabinet full of film and a few storage boxes filled with magazines, postcards, brochures and many other incarnations of printed materials.  I can honestly say, these “tear sheets” that I have collected over the years are a nuisance.  They take up space, they are chaotically filed and they are beginning to show wear from years of neglect in my garage.  I have considered going through the boxes and scanning the documents or individual magazine pages to store them on a hard drive and recycle the boxes as well as my print legacy, but I can’t seem to follow through with this personal threat.  Instead my old “tear sheets” collect dust in my garage and I collect URLs for all of my current and likely my future projects. Occasionally I will see a printed piece with my photos and magazines still publish stories with pictures, but more and more of my work and visual content in general ends up online.  A recent story in the magazine Fast Company about Energy Recovery, Inc., a company I  have been working with for the past year made me think about this process in a new way.  While more people will have access to my photos if they are published online, I still feel a sense of nostalgia for the printed image.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/1681490/our-pipes-are-full-of-power-that-were-wasting

This Jazz Times piece covering the opening of the SFJAZZ Center features 10 of my photos http://jazztimes.com/articles/71542-sfjazz-center-is-open-for-business

Would it have been better to see 2 small photos in the print version?

Today the majority of my work is destined for the web.  Every business needs a website and every website needs photos.  I am happy to oblige and fill webpages with my photography.

If only I could find thetime to update my own website http://www.scottchernis.com/

Here is a sample of recent shoots for new website designs

http://www.microprobe.com/?v=true

http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/fertility-specialists/our-fertility-specialists

http://www.hsf.net/

http://www.energyrecovery.com/

http://www.4cd.edu/about/committees/measure_a/annualreports/2012%20Annual%20Report%20to%20the%20Community%20(English).pdf

The clear space saving benefit of digital publication is worth noting.  The exponential reach of the web published piece is irrefutable but I do like to see a poster or billboard every once in awhile.  Perhaps my recently published book “10 Years With Intersection The Jazz Series” will satisfy this need for the short term, although the press release is only viewable online

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/2/prweb10334715.htm