Here are the first few images shot for A Life’s Work (fall 2006). It’s a distillation of the first twenty minutes of footage.
It’s only after twenty minutes of tape that the fifth shot, the one of Arcosanti, appears, which is to say cinematographer Wolfgang Held shot the landscape around Arcosanti before we attempted to capture the structure.
One of the huge things I’ve learned from the fine cinematographers I’ve been blessed to work with is this: whenever you can, look at the big picture before you get into the details. The big picture in this case was dawn at Arcosanti so we shot the sunrise, and the way we were oriented that morning, Arcosanti was behind us.
Sometimes you can’t look at the big picture. Sometimes, like when you’re following a person in a real-life situation, you need to run and gun. Maybe you walk into a room and a construction meeting is in progress, architectural plans are about to be unfurled. You need to capture that moment before you get a wide shot of the office. You don’t have the luxury of shooting long, wide shots of the office first. But when you’re shooting a place like Arcosanti or static objects like Bristlecone Pine trees you can take your time, concentrate on wide shots, pans, and tilts. I find when I’m doing this, and because I’m doing this, I am learning how to see what is in front of me. The details, the things that will become close ups, slowly make themselves known to me.
So, for me, it’s important to take in the big first and then ease into the details. This seems to be true in A Life’s Work and in life.