Friday, August 2, 2013

camera button friday - the 'black box' of the bosnia video/photo shoot

As an InterVarsity student 10 years ago, I participated in the Bosnia Global Project; a twinning relationship between the IFES movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Surf and Turf Region in California.  This was a monumental summer in my development as a person, leader, and global Christian.  Finally being able to return to document this now 13 year partnership has been one of my goals as a 2100 story teller.  Amy and I were there for 14 days, one of the longest shoots I have been on, but in the end we realized why we needed so much time.

The term "Black Box" is often used to explain an unknown process, like a business or decision making.  Some have devoted entire blogs to the process of explaining this Black Box of photography and video. In my own experiences, I have found that it is more of a mindset than a set of steps or parameters.   That mindset is more of a "do the best you can with what you have" attitude, pared with a "willingness to roll with what is thrown at you". Every shoot I have been on has required me to forget almost 1/2 of my plans and make up new ones.  No matter how much I know this, it still catches my off guard.  

But the new lesson I learned in Bosnia was in the "how to gain access to your subject" category.  I would have never thought that this would required us to participate so much instead of observing with our cameras.  We were forced to take coffee, eat food, walk, talk, and participate in "culture" for hours before breaking out the camera. Yes, poor us.  At first this worried me because of how expensive (time wise) it was to get only a couple shots.  But once we realized this, it made total sense, Bosnian students thrive on just being together for long periods of time.  We "knew" this, but it is a little ironic that we were trying to capture a part of the culture that we fell pray to.  In the end it yielded great shots that were more authentic and true to the project.

Almost half the time we were planning on shooting was devoted to "gaining access" by interacting with our subjects; by the end of the shoot I was glad had to had the 14 days to spend.

It is interesting that most of what we experienced ourselves has nothing to do with the final video, but it is necessary to capture the footage required for that video:  

After 2 pickpocket attempts, facing changed plans that don’t allow us to shoot video, being locked INSIDE an apartment for 12 hours, sleeping on lumpy beds, filming in the rain several days strait, and getting car sick…our project is only 25% done.  Now we need to edit.

Of course, I can reword our experience with another list too: 

After consuming 2-3 freshly baked croissants or krofna per day, drinking the strongest coffee known to man, eating amazing fresh cevapi smothered in kajmak, refreshing ourselves with $.75 gelato (but worth $3), walking the streets of a historically and religiously charged city, exploring the ruins of an ancient castle that predated the Ottoman Empire, and meeting extremely friendly and hospitable students...our project is only 25% done.  Now we get to edit.

An intro/part 1 to this project can be found here.