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Meet Jay Haysey and Bethany Mercer, better known as GlobalShots. The UK-based couple travel the world producing video and photographic content for the world’s leading action sports, outdoor lifestyle and adventure travel industries. Here they spill the beans about life as adventure sports photographers and videographers.
What’s the best bit about being an adventure sports photographer and videographer?
Bethany: Being able to come up with creative ideas, and shoot and produce content about the adventure sports and outdoor lifestyle. This job is definitely suited to those who are spontaneous as it’s hard to find a routine – every day is different from the next. To us, that’s the exciting bit!
Jay: You get to meet and work with some amazingly talented and interesting people, from professional athletes to creative outdoor enthusiasts. The work can take you to some incredible places. This year we have been lucky enough to have projects in Maui, California, Belgium, Greece, Turkey and the French Alps.
What’s the worst bit?
Jay: Packing, unpacking and repacking! You have to be extremely organised both before and after a shoot – a kit checklist is a must as you don’t want to forget that spare battery or memory card.
How do you recommend someone start out?
Bethany: It helps if you understand the sports and know what style of shot people want to see, or what is different.
Jay: GlobalShots started when I began taking photos of friends windsurfing in Greece – it was here that I developed a style. Don’t go out and buy the latest and most expensive camera before you have developed your skills. The best camera is the one you’ve got on you.
Anything unusual about your job that people might not realise?
Jay: That it’s not all adventure, sunny beaches and snowy mountain peaks! Both before and after a shoot there is a lot of time spent in front of the computer – pre-planning, storyboarding ideas, creating new concepts, logging footage, backing up footage, editing and planning the next shoot.
Bethany: There can also be a high level of pressure during shoots, as normally we are working to strict deadlines and need to make sure that we get shots in the bag. Once we get back to the edit suite there is no going back for more footage. Also, you should never think that there are ‘bad conditions’ – usually, the worst conditions produce the most dramatic shots.
How heavy is the equipment? Is it physical work?
Bethany: It’s pretty heavy. We tend to use the DJI Ronin a lot which isn’t the lightest piece of kit to hold. Most days are spent carrying heavy camera bags and multiple Pelican cases to protect our kit. Last winter we spent most our time in alpine environments, skiing with 15kg backpacks and carrying 20kg Peli cases in each arm.
What’s your most memorable shoot?
Jay: Capturing the windsurf and surf action in Maui. Imagine bobbing around in the ocean at the most famous windsurf spot in the world, with the world’s best windsurfers all pulling huge moves just metres from your camera. Water photography definitely keeps you on your toes. You’ve got razor-sharp reef a few feet below you, waves crashing a few meters above you and sharks on the mind! It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted!
Have you ever snapped anyone famous?
Bethany: We’ve snapped a few… Motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi, England rugby captain Chris Robshaw, tennis stars Tim Henman and Martina Hingis – plus a fair few windsurfing world champions!
Do you need to do a lot of training?
Jay: A lot of practice, hard work and dedication has got us to where we are now and we are still developing our skills by the day. I developed my skills through self-tuition and finding out what works best for me.
Bethany: I studied film and photography at Goldsmith’s University and worked in the TV and film production industry in London. I then worked as a runner at BBC’s Blue Peter and as Creative Producer at a production agency in London. Our combined knowledge allows us to work well as a team.
What’s the pay like?
Bethany: Video tends to pay more, as there is more pre and post production. It also depends on the length of the project and whether you are using the latest equipment, which should also be taken into consideration when pricing projects. Prices can range from £200 a day to well over £1,000 per project.
If you weren’t an adventure sports photographer what would you do?
Bethany: I love my job so wouldn’t change it for the world. However, my childhood and life-long dream has been to be a Blue Peter presenter!
Jay: For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to do what I am doing now. But I do like sweets and have always wondered what it would be like to work in a sweet factory…