Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Curse of Faulty Equipment... and the Patience of Paul Taylor

"We've got a problem."

I was standing in the lobby of the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center, talking with John Tomlinson, Executive Director of the Paul Taylor Dance Company (PTDC). Director of Marketing Alan Olshan stood close by, looking concerned.

"I enlarged some images to 80 inches for posters from last week's shoot, and they're not sharp enough."


The shoot to which John was referring was the two day, ten dancer marathon recently documented in my blog, "When Life Gives You Lemons..." I ended that blog with a confident declaration about the quality of the final images.

Perhaps my boast was a bit premature.

The campaign will not be revealed for a month or two, so I cannot mention any specifics. I can say with confidence that it will be stunning, unlike anything seen before. The dancers are phenomenal, and the concept PTDC created is fun and unique. They produced a tremendous amount of exciting images for any print and media campaign they pursue.

But there's this little issue with the posters. You know, the big posters hanging all over Lincoln Center. The face of the campaign. Well, they're not sharp enough.

I had rented a special camera for the marathon shoot. The Nikon D3X is specifically designed for shooting large images, but it wasn't focusing properly. Let me reiterate- I rented a camera to solve the problem before it became a problem, and it was broken! So I turned to my trusty D3S, the very best camera on the market. It takes amazing photographs that look flawless, even if you blow them up to 60 inches.

Did they say they needed 80 inch posters?

We returned to Lincoln Center on Monday to reshoot two dancers, Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young. I rented the D3X again, and it was fully functional this time. We had a very successful shoot, and we parted ways, excited to see the results. The images would look stunning as 80 inch posters.


I got home and ran straight to my studio. I couldn't wait to see the photos. I popped in the memory card, opened the file, and...

Nothing. No images. The memory card was corrupt.

I can't write about the rest of that evening; I don't have the skill to put a voice to the level of my frustration. I will say this though- I wasn't looking forward to the reaction from PTDC. I wrote an email promising my third-born child for one more chance to shoot these damn posters.

I hit "Send" and waited to hear the explosion on Grand Street. Ten minutes later my cell phone rang.

"Jordan, this is John Tomlinson. This isn't a call to strategize about the next step. This is just a call to calm you down. It's going to be fine."

Now I know why his dancers speak so glowingly about him. His calm absorbed my anxiety.

In the end I was able to retrieve some images, and we're hoping the memory card's service department can recover more.

We've scheduled one final shoot for next week. I'm going to bring three cameras, ten memory cards, two computers, four assistants and the CEO of Nikon.

Is that overkill?