One of the attributes that's necessary for both photographers and assistants is ingenuity. Around this time last year, I helped out Adam Moore from Sugar Digital on a shoot he was doing for Whale Wars. The banner on Whale Wars Facebook page is the result. You may have noticed a little photoshop's been done on that image.
Those crewmembers you see are actual crewmembers, and they were actually in the studio for the shoot, and they are actually really cool*. But what they weren't, actually, was piloting a Zodiac boat around the studio. It needed to be faked.
I know from experience that the closer you can get a subject to doing what they're supposed to be faking, the better it's going to look. And I know that standing on a wood floor on the third story of a photostudio and holding your hands out like they're gripping a wheel is not very close at all.
So, after we set up the lighting, and the subjects were dressed and ready, I suggested that we build them a boat, and everybody looked at me like I'm crazy.
I took a furniture pad, rolled it pretty tight, and stabilized it with gaffers tape, and put that on the mark. I placed a spare magliner shelf on top of that, et voilà, a rolling deck. I had ridden my bicycle, so I pulled off my front wheel, and rigged it on a C Stand arm in front of the new deck, et voici, a steering wheel.
The first subject hopped up on the deck, gripped the wheel, and started hollering. My little boat worked really well, and helped bring a little bit of authenticity to the poses.
*I think there's something about death-defying activities that makes people end up cool; or maybe cool people do death-defying things. Chicken. Egg.