You don’t always have what you need to get the shot—that’s when you have to get creative. Whether it’s because you didn’t have time to get a proper scout in before the shoot, you discover a new angle while on location, or it’s just impossible to get a piece of equipment to the location (like a ladder), sometimes you have to improvise.
Oftentimes I have been on shoots that require us to hike a decent amount in order to get to the location. Bringing a piece of equipment like a ladder is just completely out of the question. Because of this, you can often find me trying to climb anything to get different perspectives.
A while back I was on a shoot where this was the case. I was talking through the shot we were getting with the client. While I thought what we were getting was good, it would be a lot better if I could get a bit higher vantage point. Unfortunately there was nothing to climb. He jokingly suggested I get on his shoulders. I laughed for a second, and then thought to myself that it wasn’t a bad idea. I wouldn’t exactly be described as a “large person,” and figured it was worth a shot.
The extra few feet that I got was just what I needed, and I have been using this technique ever since. Recently we’ve even found ourselves on shoots almost looking for the “shoulder-pod” angle. It often gets weird looks from spectators, whether they’re spectators in downtown San Francisco or angry sparrows protecting their nests along running trails on the coast. It may be unconventional, but I can tell you one thing: It definitely works.