Wine Country Impromptu Shoot, Ask Questions Later

I couldn’t pass up on trip to the visit a new client that I started working for earlier this spring, a small winery operation in the heart of the wine country. The Caves at Soda Canyon is the brainchild of a young entrepreneurial wine maker with some award wining creations already under his belt.

The idea of Wine, the Wine Country and the picturesque landscape that is so quintessential Sunset Magazine’s best 10 weekend getaways sounded like perfect assignment for me. At first, the marketing team I was working with simply came to me and said, “ We need to get some shots of The Cave”, I thought, a cave is architecture, I guess?

I’m an architectural commercial photographer and should be excited about the idea.

“Oh, by the way The Cave are still being dug and we’re not sure about how to make it look good but, know we need some shots of some of the bottles too”. That was last spring, having visited the Caves a couple of times since then and already having established a working relationship were they trust my creative direction, I’ve since returned a couple of times making quick use of my multifaceted photodojo skills. On past visits I’ve acted as the family portrait photographer while having to quickly shift gears to ensure I cram in a couple of product shots and also manage to leave a couple minutes to get some sunset shots before I call it a wrap. With a little pre-production planning and a light bag filled with the essential location tools like Alien Bee Vagabond Power Packs, 1600 heads and a couple of speed lights; an old waterproof SB 28 and a ballistic Vivitar 285. It’s easy to quickly improvise my lighting a make quick adjustments as needed when I’m running around trying to get that perfect mixture of ambiance and hard highlights that my strobes offer.

On this last trip that we made with the marketing team, the graphic designer and their spouses whom happened to be Brazilian and naturally blessed with some modelesque good looks, I was briefed with some simple facts that there was going to be a wine tasting group coming through around sunset and that The Caves were finished and that they needed some shots for both print and website collateral. Knowing that the wine tasting patron might not be as willing or easily be able to direct as paid talent would be and knowing that walking away with a descent shot that looks natural and real was going to take some quick shooting with a lot of moving around. I quickly put my art directors hat on and saw the modeleque Brazilians standing around as the perfect opportunity to get some life style shots, if I could direct my subjects exactly how I wanted them this would ensure that I walked away with some stellar shots versus trying to create something from a bunch of un suspecting, inebriated wine tour that was probably more interested on making sure their wine glass were full.

In the end I walked away with some great photos of both the wine tasting group and my improvised Brazilian model team. Despite my several years of commercial photography experience behind me and my ability to adapt under tight circumstances, I believe the old idea of always having a plan B, should never be forgotten.


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