The Parts That Make The Whole

The parts for the bicycle assembly arrived today. That means that today has been a lot of “hurry up and wait.” A lot of my friends are in production or actors in film, television, and stage and they’ll know exactly what I mean. When it’s your “go” time, you jump in, do your thing, and then it’s back to waiting again until the next time to go.

That’s what today has been. We left for the shop earlier than usual today because the parts were here and the workers needed to capitalize on as much assembly time as possible for the photo shoot tomorrow. Of course, some parts are missing and some were sent incorrectly. This kind of thing happens even when a photo shoot has some wiggle room, but this photo shoot doesn’t have wiggle room. We’re already cutting it exceptionally close.

Kwabena is a man with enormous vision. It’s why he is successful in what he is doing today. This product shoot is one of the major pieces of work here because the photos will be turned into a beautiful brochure to help seek out additional distributors. Right now, Booomers has great partners in Germany and the U.K., but Kwabena wants to find his way into the U.S. market and strong marketing collateral is necessary for that to happen. The challenges with the parts have made this enormous vision now a frenetic job that we are just trying to make happen for him and the crew. The workers here are working SO incredibly hard every single day.

Product photography is its own niche. Non-photographers are often quick to assume that all photography is the same or that every photographer can do every kind of photography. Wanna get on a photographer’s bad side? Ask the why they charge “so much” when “all they do is press a button.” While those of us who are professionals are often fine in any situation, there is a reason we tend to specialize. We know what we like to shoot, we know what our strengths are, and so on. For example, I am not a newborn photographer. Can I take beautiful photos of a baby? Sure. Are you going to get the same kind of experience that you’d get with a newborn photographer? Nope. In the same way, you can throw me into almost any documentary situation and you’ll see me working in my sweet spot.

When Kwabena showed us the brochure concept he had in mind, my gears were spinning. Lacey is doing the product shoot, which will be a mix of lifestyle images and detail shots of ALL the bicycle components of ALL the models they offer. It’s A LOT of work, likely a solid 8-10 hours of (fast) photography that we have to cram into about 5-6 hours, if we don’t stop and if we can work on our time and not Africa time. For my part, I’ll be assisting all day, hoping to make it as easy as possible. The British High Commissioner is visiting tomorrow, which means our day had to adjust yet again.

Product photography is exacting and it’s worth noting that both of us are working here in Africa with just a fraction of the tools we might otherwise have available to pull off so many diverse styles of work in one trip. Creativity itself can be draining, and energizing, but one’s brain starts to hurt when you’re constantly problem-solving and re-strategizing on top of trying to work within completely foreign parameters. So wish us luck tomorrow, we’ll need it.

a busy workshop filing, hammering, wrapping, and finishing bikes, Kwabena finishes his latest call with the people in the port. There has been no movement. No answers. His face is adorned with lines of stress instead of lines of signature laugh. He has worked incredibly hard to have everything here for our work, and now, with just under a week to go, we just need the parts.