July 24, 2008 – Thursday – The “Money Shot”

By Richard Coberly

The “Money Shot” is a term thrown around very casually by people in the photography business, but what exactly does it mean? In simple terms, it’s the single photo image or video clip that gets the most attention, has the best content, is the most beautiful, most perfect, or most descriptive. Actually, it is all of these things combined in one way or another. It is, in fact, the indefinable perfect shot.

The money shot is not only hard to define, but also one of the most difficult to capture; so elusive that sometimes you never get it at all. It is a moving target whose value changes as rapidly as the price of gas, and cannot be ascertained until everything is shot. As director of the Trouvadore film crew, I was determined to get one from the beginning of the expedition

During the first week we got lucky and shot some incredible video of an exceptionally friendly whale shark, documenting behavior never before seen by the experienced crew of divers from the TCExII. Would this turn out to be our money shot? However, by day five we had obtained some equally great shots of artifacts that were directly related to our program subject, so the earlier whale shark footage became somewhat devalued.

Whale-shark underwater shot

Once we moved to the Trouvadore wreck site at East Caicos, I began the quest for a real money shot, a shot that could put all the others to shame. It would be a fabulous aerial sequence encompassing everything in one glorious aerial swoop shot from a helicopter. It would begin at the TCExII, follow small launches racing toward the reef filled with equipment and eager team members, heading to the Trouvadore wreck-site marked only by a small white 30 foot catamaran acting as the platform for the excavation, all against a backdrop of the incredible blue-green water and white sand beaches of the Island of East Caicos in all its natural solitude.

Aerial shot of Breezy Point, East Caicos

After many days of arm twisting and pleading with local officials, to my dismay, the helicopter never materialized (much like that million-dollar lotto ticket I’m waiting for). So it’s back to the drawing board. Will tomorrow bring another even more spectacular opportunity for a money shot, or will the whole thing hang on the value of previous images? It truly is a moving target! You just can’t know, until the last frame has been recorded.