The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. But other than all the bad things it has brought upon us, there are some good ones too. One of them is new photography genres, and we’ll surely remember 2020 and 2021 for remote photoshoots and gaming photography. So, it’s no wonder that someone came up with an idea to create an app that lets you shoot from the comfort of your home. CLOS is the first app of its kind, and it lets you control the photoshoot from your phone through the camera of your model’s.
I’ve spent most of my career working as a photojournalist and director of photography, and I’m happy to have recently started working with Wonderful Machine as a freelance photo editor and creative consultant.
As a photographer, I work from my home base in Istanbul, completing assignments for places like The New York Times. But, just like everywhere else, COVID-19 has put a damper on normal human interactions in Turkey. So, when a photo editor at The New York Times gave me the option of shooting an assignment remotely, I was intrigued. In addition to health concerns, the three subjects I needed to photograph were worried about having their location disclosed for security reasons. And though it might have been possible for me to get to them, I had never tried a remote photoshoot; with all of us looking to minimize travel, I wanted to give it a go.
Some photographers experimented with remote shooting before 2020. But when the pandemic hit, video call shoots became a thing. In fact, they seem to be so popular now that even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had their pregnancy photo taken remotely. Photographer Misan Harriman took the photo of the couple via iPad from 5,500 miles away. He directed the shoot from London while the couple was all the way in Santa Barbara, California, and the photo caused tons of mixed reactions on social media.
We set out to see what collaborating on an automotive campaign would look like when done virtually. In the words of the always colorful Jeremy Clarkson, “How hard could it be?” TL;DR: Not that hard!
The traditional automotive advertising shoot involves the meticulous planning of every detail. It is typically a carefully scripted production with many moving parts that can involve road closures, permits, police presence, a large crew, a host of lighting and rigging equipment, and more. All of which is obviously much more difficult to produce in light of COVID-19 and current social distancing requirements, especially since some cities have returned to a near lock-down state due to a resurgence of the virus.
To keep themselves busy and creative in isolation, some photographers are turning to alternative shooting methods such as video chat. Shane Balkowitsch is one of them, and he did something that I find pretty extraordinary. He didn’t only conduct a portrait shoot online via video chat, which is amazing on its own. He created a wet plate portrait from his US home, photographing his friend in the UK via Zoom video call.
GoPro action cameras are small enough that they can be placed almost anywhere. But the problem with choosing unconventional locations is that you still have to press the record button yourself.
Of course, you could use GoPro’s smartphone app to trigger the camera. But there are undoubtedly times when you don’t want to put your smartphone at risk, or want to worry about your smartphone’s battery dying.
For these times, it’s best to have a backup wireless remote.
Now, with a little know-how, you can create a very inexpensive and incredibly small DIY GoPro remote, saving you from the cost of GoPro’s $65 proprietary remote.
The Max Stone (Amazon | B&H) is a little IR- based camera remote that was successfully funded on kickstarter in February, earlier this year. The Max Stone aims to connect your camera and your smartphone with their app and dongle, enabling you to wirelessly trigger your camera with your phone. The app also allows for multiple other features like a time-lapse mode, thief protection and weather information.
I have been filming a lot of tutorial videos lately, and one of the problems that I keep running into is starting and stopping video recording on my own.
This usually involves me walking over to the camera, pressing record and then walking back into position to film the video. I have tried using a stick, but I am not nearly that coordinated and it risks messing up the alignment of the shot. I have also tried bribing my children, but their quoted rates were a little higher than this production can afford.
The problem is especially frustrating if I have to focus the camera, in which case I usually build a little focusing dummy out of pillows or beer cases or cats.
Fortunately, if you are a Nikon user, there is a relatively simple solution.