You Gotta Get The Shot…No Matter What

Nat Doing His Thing In Squaw Valley

I cannot ever return from an assignment and not have the shot I need (and my clients want and are paying for). Shooting for my book is no different. I have to get the shot. Period. So it was my goal for the day to photograph my son snowboarding in Squaw Valley, CA. I wanted to practice my action photography techniques and run my new 5D Mark II through some additional tests.

All was good until I slipped on a patch of black ice (as I was heading towards the snowboarding area), and hit the back of my head on the ground. The ski patrol came and took me to the emergency room to be examined. I had a mild concussion and I was embarrassed because I knew the footing was slippery, I was being careful and still slipped like I had stepped on a banana peel in a Three Stooges two-reeler.

The worst part was my gear: the meter was knocked out of calibration to the tune of five stops! I was not a happy camper. After careful examination of the 5D body and double-checking the IS and AF features of my 24-105 F/4 L series lens, I knew I could work in manual exposure mode if the shutter and aperture camera controls still worked. As a pro I know how work in full manual mode, but I’m a big fan of the Av and Tv modes too. They work great and under the right circumstances frequently build better photographs by using these other two exposure modes.

As I walked back towards the area where my son was at, I tested the camera a few times to make sure I could count on it to perform the way I needed it to. (I didn’t have my backup body with me, my bad)

As you can tell by the photo, I got my shot. Plenty of them so other than the gear issue, the day was a smashing success. This is the same attitude I bring to my assignment work, nothing short of a complete catastrophe will keep me from my goal, which is to build better photographs for my clientele. There is usually something that can go and will often go wrong right when you least expect it and yet you have to perform admirably and professionally. This attitude separates the amateurs from the pros and this attitude also helps to protect your pricing structure…absolute professionalism under less than ideal conditions.

Go get ’em and good shooting!


Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.

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