Fast as a Greyhound

We're handing over to Gripvan crew member Sam Benard for this account of a recent personal project shot on location with Gripvan.

Being born and bred in London, I’ve had the privilege of working for Gripvan since starting my assisting career 4 years ago.  I’ve had the chance to work on some fantastic shoots, many of which have been massive productions, giving me first had experience of Gripvan’s potential.  So it was amazing to finally have an opportunity to have a van on one of my own shoots. 

I’ve always taken pictures, but it’s over the past year or two that I’ve been shooting in a more considered manner, slowly building my portfolio.  The shoots I enjoy assisting on the most are sports advertising campaigns. The productions are huge and there’s always an interesting and different lighting set up to get my head around.  If all goes to plan, sports advertising is hopefully the route I’ll be going down.  That’s why I feel this test shoot was a huge step in the right direction.  I’d been thinking about this shoot for such a long time, so I was delighted when It finally came together.

The concept behind this test shoot was a combination of producing some stunning images as well as a testing my technical skills.  I also understand that there is a huge amount of controversy around the sport of greyhound racing.  But I chose to put that to one side and not take on any political views when shooting this project.  I simply wanted to show these beautiful animals in all their glory.  Their power and elegance.  On the technical side of things I wanted test myself and see if I could sync three cameras to shoot at exactly the same time, as well as freezing the motion of the dogs.  Not an easy task on an animals that can hit 45mph and reaches full speed in only a couple strides.

The day proved to be much trickier than I could even had planned for.  The initial plan was to use a laser trigger to fire cameras and flash at the same time, but there were some unforeseen technical issues with the trigger which meant I had to rethink my whole approach on the day.  In addition to that, we had very heavy fog to deal with.  This meant that it interfered with the remote flash transmissions and showed up heavily in shot for the head on angle, shot on a 600mm lens.  Meaning we had to shoot at night time with no ambient light, so not to light up the fog.  Trying to freeze the motion at that speed, meant pushing the cameras and Broncolor flash to their limits. We were given 6 dogs to work with, but with only a couple runs per dog, meaning there was very little room for error.

Having a Gripvan on the day was simply awesome.  It proved to be the safety net it has been so many times before.  This was the biggest production I’d done to date and I’d have been in stranded without it.  We ended up using almost everything on the van in one way or another.  The team at Gripvan were amazing in helping me put this shoot together, from locating specialised equipment like the laser trigger and 600mm lens, to giving valuable technical advice.  If I could have a van on all my future shoots I’d be a very happy man.

This shoot was a fantastic yet trying experience and I can’t wait to do another... hopefully with another Gripvan on my kit list.