How to Navigate Peak Times: A Photographer's Guide to Busy Days

Photo of an Eiffel Tower
Captured by Danica Jurisic
This article is dedicated to all the photographers who have been on the site during major holidays and know what it's like to work 12 hours back to back, shooting one session after another.

There are those few and short, yet very dynamic and intense periods in every photographer’s life when you are overwhelmed with bookings.Even as you might rejoice while contemplating the state of your bank account that follows such events, you still have a long way to go in managing the chaos that usually accompanies such a period.

It won't be the long hours and physical work you will put in that will make you stressed. Usually, it's the miscommunication between agencies and clients, tardiness, equipment malfunctions, and all the small, annoying things that usually wouldn't even warrant a complaint. But, during those exceptional periods, they might feel like a full-on sabotage!

In this article, I will try to describe some of the problems you might encounter, as well as offer solutions or guidance for some of them. Dealing with so many issues in such a short period might be frustrating and exhausting, but there is a solution for everything! 

Christmas in Paris

Last Christmas, we experienced something that might be described as an invasion of tourists in Paris. Trocadéro, the most beautiful spot to take pictures with the Eiffel Tower in the background, was swarmed by enthusiastic hordes who, fuelled by their Christmas spirit and mulled wine, all decided to take pictures right then and there.

As large as it is, the plateau of Trocadéro was fully covered and packed with tourists accompanied by street merchants, street musicians, pickpockets, providers of shady services, gamblers, frauds and of course - fellow photographers. There wasn't a single space where you could take a picture without at least ten of other people crammed into your frame.

Just walking through that crowd felt like a mission impossible, but when you factor in clients who are running late or have gotten lost, malfunctioning equipment, low phone battery, or other tech inconveniences, it might seem like disaster is inevitable.

Deep breaths, you've got this!

One of the most obvious things you need to do when facing such a rush is to keep calm. Don't panic, don't get emotional; remember that your professional attitude and kind language can go a long way. You have already many things predefined in your booking: time, place of meeting, number of photos and duration of the session. Try to reinforce those parameters while using kind and empathetic language. Remind your clients that they need to be on time. Sometimes you can push your shooting for a while, but in certain situations, when you have one session after another, any kind of rescheduling won't be possible. 

Tardiness is the worst enemy of any photographer

There is nothing worse than having a client who keeps you on your toes, unsure whether he/she will make it to the shoot. And on those busy days, when public transportation and even Uber fail you, it will happen all too often.

It is not only your clients who might be late. You will find yourself in a pinch even as you take well-known paths from your place to the shooting site. Your colleagues might be late as well. To avoid this, try to do the best you can: talk to your client a day before and ask them to come a bit earlier so they are sure they won't miss the shoot.

Leave your place 30 minutes earlier just to make sure you will be there on time (and sometimes even that won't help). Keep your phone charged so you can communicate with your clients or the support centre. Talk to your friend/colleges photographers, who are going to be on the site - in case of an emergency.  Sometimes it is necessary to ask for help, there is nothing wrong with it - we all need a little help here and there. Don't hesitate to do so in the time of need. 

Make magic happen

Your beautiful site where you take the most amazing photos is now crowded or inaccessible? Is there not a single spot left for taking pictures? Get creative!

Take your clients a bit further, to a location where you will achieve the same results, but it may not be as obvious to others. In my case, when I couldn't take pictures with my clients at Trocadéro, I guided them a bit closer to the Eiffel Tower, to the docks of the River Seine.

It is a more secluded place, with the beautiful waterfront right in between you and the Eiffel Tower, perfect for intimate photos. That is where most of proposal shootings happen - beside the river and the tower, the beautiful bridge Iena compliments your photos. And even at night, a reflection of the Eiffel Tower on the river provides a beautiful palette of colors.

In those very exceptional days when you can't perform as usual, ask your clients to join you at another location, which might yield the same results. Show them photos from your previous shoots, inquire if they would like to try something new and original, and take them to the best possible place.

Find your safe heaven

There is nothing as comforting as being able to take a little break from all the chaos. A safe haven—like a bistro or a coffee bar—with affordable prices, where you can recharge your batteries (literally and figuratively), take a restroom break, grab a hot drink, or a snack!

Those places are worth their weight in gold! As you might assume, most of the restaurants and coffee bars around those popular touristic places are extremely expensive and unwelcoming for daily visits. However, there are always one or two exceptions that are not immediately obvious, but still close enough to be convenient for those of us who spend hours there every day. You will definitely need one of those to keep yourself comfortable and ready for the shoot.

Remember before you face any of those challenges: kindness and simple apologies can do wonders when working with clients. 

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to also read our interview with Danni. 🎙️Find out more about her passion in photography and dive into the fun behind the camera and see what inspires her!