I mentioned last week that I had the opportunity to travel to Canada with Shaun Groves to meet Ann Voskamp, a blogger and New York Times best selling author.  Shaun and Ann traveled to Guatemala through Compassion International about a year ago and I was honored to go with Shaun to Ann’s farm and capture them talking about their experiences and the influences for Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts, and Shaun’s new album, Third World Symphony.

This was a very quick trip.  I left Nashville early Monday morning and flew to Buffalo New York to meet Shaun and Ben, his road manager.  From there  we all drove across the border to Canada.  Interesting side story.  After crossing the border and being attacked with question after question and then being sent into a building for more questioning because the lady didn’t believe us Ann said not to say you are coming to see a blogger or to say you are staying on a farm and we said both.  Ha!  Maybe that’s why we were stopped.  Anyway, we then had about a 3 hour drive to Ann’s farm

I needed to pack light but be prepared for anything.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to have any frills but I had to some some basic essentials.  In my camera bag (ThinkTank StreetWalker Hardrive) I packed my 2 60D’s, a Rode Videomic, my Zoom H4N recorder, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, a Canon 16-35mm EF f/2.8L lens, plenty of SD cards, and lots of batteries.  I wanted to minimize what I checked on the plane so I then packed basically a change of clothes into a carry-on suitcase and then filled the rest of it with two Lowell Tota’s, the cables, a small reflector, and 2 umbrella’s.  I then just packed my light stands and a mic stand into a small stand bag and checked that with my tripod in its case.

All Is Grace from Patrick Tohill on Vimeo.

We didn’t shoot Monday night but we had some great down time to hang out and talk with Ann and the family.  Early Tuesday morning we began filming in a Beautiful field on the farm.  The challenge here was that at 9 AM the sun was pretty low so it was either shoot into the sun or you get to watch Ann and Shaun squint.  We chose for me to be in facing the sun and Ben helped hold a reflector for me to get some light on Ann and Shaun’s faces.  This worked well for two songs and then we moved to Ann’s back yard.  This was a simple setup as well.  We were in the shade so the sun wasn’t and issue.  For the last segment filmed inside Ann’s house on an awesome old piano.  This was a challenge because the only source of light was behind me outside and I didn’t feel a need to set up lights and it worked out great.  For audio I placed the Rode Videomic on a boom and hung it between Ann and Shaun.  I had to go in and take out some wind noise in post but that was all.

As for the camera setup, I simply mounted a camera in front with Ann and Shaun in frame and then I walked around with a hand held using my 50mm 1.8 lens. When Shaun began to play I wanted to make sure I captured the moment but I wanted to make sure that I could see Ann in frame as well.  I wanted to keep to the tight shots as much as possible while Shaun was singing so I pretty much cut to the static camera just to mask moments where I began to shift angles.

The key in any situation is to capture the moment without being in the way and with a quick and efficient setup.  Because we were doing everything on the fly and we were moving from place to place and because we had like 2 hours to shoot and then we were leaving I had to be prepared and I pretty much had one shot.  You must be calm, pay attention to detail, and be able to adapt to any situation quickly while on a remote location.

I want to thank Shaun and Ann for letting me be a part of this experience.

Check out the rest of the videos here.