Thursday, September 26, 2019

Danger in the Studio, with Santa

I was shooting some portraits yesterday (private - the pictures will not be posted) and I took this test shot just to make sure the Pocketwizards and lights were working.  I would have deleted the image, but I noticed that my orange cones were in the picture.  It occurred to me there was a story here, as well as a tip for other photographers if they want to be extra safe.

For the last several years, I've been taking pictures at a "brunch with Santa" event. Normally, Santa and I are off in a corner and out of the way. But there was always a risk of excited kids tripping over the legs of light stands, cords, etc.  I cringed when I thought of my AlienBees 1600 falling from over 10 feet up.  I just tried to secure the stuff and keep it out of the way as much as possible. 

A couple of years ago, we found ourselves in a different venue that was, essentially, a hallway. It wasn't frequently used, but people did walk through the set occasionally.  And of course, the only outlet I could use required the cords to be in the path.  And, of course, there were light stands as well. I could easily foresee people tripping and AlienBees falling from the sky. 

I asked the janitor if he had any of those "wet floor" warning cones. He delivered. I don't know if it worked, but at least no one tripped over the various obstacles that I had placed in their way. I decided, on the spot, to buy a couple of cones for future use.  During a break in the action, I used my trusty Amazon app, but they were kind of expensive.  On the other hand, Amazon recommended the smaller soccer cones for a LOT less money - I bought 'em on the spot.

Since then, I have placed them liberally around light stands and wires.  Again, I don't know if they work, but I've had no tripping accidents.

Last Christmas, one of the kids waiting to visit Santa snottily walked right through the set and kicked over a couple of the cones...and kept kicking one all across the room. And Santa was right there!!!

Santa made it clear to the kid that he was a bad boy.  He made him put the cones back where they were and apologize. So some kid probably got a crapload of coal in his stocking. I know this because, when we talked about it later, Santa was still pretty pissed and was furiously scribbling in his naughty list.

So that was nice.

Here's the tip.  In a previous life, I found myself, quite by accident (see what I did there), as the de facto safety director for a small manufacturing plant. So I became a little bit more attuned to safety issues than the normal guy. I'm pretty sure very few photographers get busted by OSHA, but I'm willing to bet that, if they ever did visit, they'd want to see orange cones around light stands and cords. So be safe and impress your associates with how much you care about their safety! Buy yourself some orange soccer cones and sprinkle them liberally around the set.

Santa will be happy too.

Geneva, Illinois
September 25, 2019

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