We preach a lot about planning, analyzing shoots and adjusting, and doing things differently. It’s basically the BLFS method. I thought it might be instructive to share my plans and goals for the upcoming rodeo season.
The first few seasons I shot rodeo, it was a lot of work to get credentialed, and I never knew if my next one would be my last of the season. Now between rodeo committees & staff, stock contractors and my clients, I’m able to shoot all of the rodeos I can get to, so I can now think of the season as a whole rather than “I need to get pictures of XYZ cowboy because I may not see him again for a year.” This is of course incredibly liberating because I can have an actual plan rather than forcing pictures that may not be there.
I didn’t shoot much on either side of the holidays, so I had plenty of time to think about my plan. I ended up sifting through my entire rodeo archive, adding keywords and deleting bad or duplicate pictures to the tune of about 25% of the total size. I looked at pictures from each rodeo and decided that I need to shoot looser at some of the smaller arenas, so I’ll bring a 300mm in addition to my 400. The 300 will allow me to get a couple more jumps in the bucking events before I have to either stop shooting or switch cameras to the 70-200mm.
I tend not to shoot a whole lot of team roping. I like watching the event a lot, but the distance between header and heeler means you have to shoot with a relatively wide lens from a relatively long distance. This of course results in loose, low-impact pictures with little ability to isolate the action from often-busy backgrounds. Go ahead, do a Google image search for team roping and tell me I’m wrong. But not shooting it because I don’t like the pictures means saying no to potential clients who call asking for pictures of their endorsees who are team ropers. This is bad business, so I’m going to make a change this year and devote time during slack (rodeo’s version of qualifying) to getting tight singles of all the team ropers. Sponsors don’t often need header and heeler in the same picture, so singles will allow me to say yes to those requests much more often.
I’m going to continue a long-term project I thought of towards the end of last season. I’m going to hold back the exact nature of the project until it’s further along, but for the purposes of this post, it’s not relevant. Whether you’re getting ready to shoot a season of Little League, high school football, or MLB, think of something that ties the season together (as opposed to it being just a collection of games) and commit to it.
Finally, I’m going to just flat out work harder than I did last year. I always hustle no matter what I’m shooting, but when I went back through my pictures from last year I noticed that on days when I shot a night performance followed by early morning slack, I didn’t get many if any behind-the-chutes pictures the following night performance. This is nothing more than a stack of missed opportunities, and I’m going to fix that if I have to corner the market in both coffee and Red Bull this year.
During rodeo season, the vast majority of my time spent not shooting is traveling and cleaning both my gear and my clothes. I’m going to try to schedule review time each week to make sure I’m sticking to my plan and getting what I need.
It’s true that “A battle plan will never survive the first contact” but it’s still better to have one and need to make adjustments later than to fly blind. Obviously my plan won’t be your plan, but I hope that the thought that went into what I’ll be doing can get you to think about how to plan for your own schedule.
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