Tethered shooting

Tethered shooting or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the cord

September 04, 2018

Early in my career as a photographer/videographer I was, in a manner of speaking, a soloist. I was working with others but was the creative and had very few within my circle who had an eye for meaningfully contributing anything remotely artistic. My, how things have changed.

Never have I been surrounded by the level of talented creatives and artistic sensibilities that I am here at Vendi. But joining such a talented team required a considerable shift in mindset—less me, more we. If you haven’t worked in a collaborative workplace, this can be a little unsettling. You may like, respect and trust your new team, but old habits die hard. Hang in there; you’ll quickly realize it's one of the best ways to conduct a photo shoot.

Vendi photo shoot

Works and plays well with others

If you’re not used to a collaborative culture, your first couple of tethered shoots may feel like someone looking over your shoulder while you work. In a sense, they are. Get over it. They are helping you be better at what you do. Embrace it.

Whether it’s a big-budget shoot with a creative and/or art director, makeup artist, hair stylist, wardrobe and prop stylists, lighting tech, producer, account manager, etc., or a shoot with just you and your client, anyone who can better see what you’re doing can contribute to a shoot. Everyone can have a role and can be looking for different things. This allows your brain to go right while other team members' perspectives go left. Divide and conquer and you’ll succeed.

Flying solo

Even if it's just you alone, reviewing your photos on a bigger monitor is better than the tiny screen on the back of your camera. You’re able to zoom to full resolution, check critical focus, and rate or tag images in the field or studio to make sorting and processing go more smoothly. I’ve had to position my camera in places that did not allow access to the controls, the shutter release, or the screen on the back of the camera—tethering to the rescue! Once connected to a computer, you’re able to automatically create a backup of your photos. That insurance alone is worth tethering. If your client can’t make the shoot, with tethering, you can configure your software to automatically upload your photos as you’re shooting to keep the client involved from a distance.

Wireless tethering (How’s that for an oxymoron?)

There’s a lot to be said of flying by the seat of your pants—shooting a lot of photos quickly and keeping things fluid. Many candid shoots require this. Like a good guitar solo—if you’re talented, you improvise and just run with it. I’ve gotten many great photos with this approach—guitar solos, not so much.

If you’re shooting this style, most likely you’re working hand-held and need to move about quickly and unencumbered. Again, wireless tethering is your friend. Images do not transfer as quickly as they do when using a USB cable, but with many setups, you can transfer only the lower-res jpegs and keep the raw images in the camera. This speeds things up considerably.

Altogether now

The photos we make at Vendi are strategically designed to be on-brand, evoke a specific feeling and motivate people to take a desired action. To do so usually means slowing down and perfecting the shot. This ain't free jazz. We’re playing a carefully composed, nuanced orchestral score together. Tethering allows all the players to be in tune and in sync.

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