You can’t really see it in this photo taken from the lounge at this small airfield in Wisconsin, but the snow was coming down hard there. Hard enough to cause flight delays and cancellations. However, en route to the airport, the snow was only falling lightly, so I wasn’t concerned at the time. After all, this is just a few weeks away from the start of Summer.
I had presented a week-long workshop in Wisconsin as part of the Wisconsin Professional Photographers School at Treehaven, and was due to fly back home to New Jersey on Friday afternoon. I absolutely had to get home sometime that Friday night, since I had a wedding the next day that I was photographing. So when the progression of flight delays and cancellations were announced, it was soon obvious I would miss my connecting flight in Minneapolis. This was enough reason for a mild state of panic – at some point I knew I would be late for the wedding the next day.
But I had my iPhone with me. Of course. I have this thing clutched in my left hand most of the day anyway. But I digress. I had the contact info of all my photographer friends in New Jersey. I sent out text messages to a few of them, hoping someone would have the day open to help me out. A few were even willing to change the times of their existing photo shoots to help me out. However, my friend Geri Nelson was free on the day and immediately offered to help out. Better yet, she lives in the same town as the bride and myself. I phoned my bride, and left a phone message with her. And then I finalized details with Geri. From the timing it looked like I would be able to join the wedding at the start of the ceremony. Which meant I would rely on Geri to cover the bride’s preparation. But, just to be sure in case of more hiccups, I told Geri to be prepared to shoot the entire wedding.
The flight left at 7:30 pm that Friday night, and I over-nighted in Minneapolis. The next morning then was a mad dash to get home from the airport, and grab the rest of my equipment before heading out to photograph the wedding. I did arrive just before the ceremony, and easily got into the swing of events. Geri stayed with me through the ceremony and portrait session, and I continued until the end of the wedding reception. I was also fortunate that I had a couple that was easy-going and very cool about it all.
The point to this rambling anecdote?
When trouble hit, I had a system of back-ups in place, whether formal or informal …
1. I had all relevant info on hand.
Via my iPhone, I had contact details, phone numbers and addresses. I had my calendar available to me. I could check flight details via an iPhone app. (Flight Track Pro, if you’re interested.)
You may well ask, what if I had lost my iPhone? I have everything synched online via my MobileMe account. I can’t rely on just one device. So either way I would somehow be able to get to what I needed to know.
2. I knew I could rely on a network of photographer friends to help me out.
That is the contradiction – the very photographers that I compete with in my business as a wedding photographer, are some of the people that I can immediately rely on to help me out in an emergency. And I know they will gladly help me, as I would help them in similar situations.
A multi-shooter studio could easily swap out shooters when needed, but as individual business owners / photographers, we need a network of friends. We refer overflow work to each other. And we help each other with advice and support. The network can be an informal one – everyone surely has friends – or a more formally established one, or even via a Facebook group of like-minded photographers.
So a back-up plan in photography doesn’t necessarily just mean equipment back-ups; or how you back-up and archiving digital files; or that you absolutely need equipment and business insurance … a back-up plan is also about how you deal with problems in case you deal with unforeseen events.
Our friends over in Europe had an unhealthy dose of this recently when that volcano-with-the-unpronounceable-name soured everyone’s lives there. I am sure they have stories to tell!