I was asked to take pictures at the kids’ school for the Winter something or rather. It was a combination of an art show, an unveiling of the holiday lights, and a concert representing a variety of classes and clubs.
I’ve been watching a video series from National Geographic on taking great photographs. It certainly leans heavily towards nature and landscapes but it also includes a good bit on taking interesting pictures of people and trying to tell a story with your photos. I thought this would be a good time to try to apply some of the things I’d learned about in the course. It certainly re-aggrevated my Ira Glass Taste Gap.1
One of the challenges I find in this kind of photography is letting my own opinion intrude just enough. My goal is to try to be inclusive and to take good photographs. Sometimes artistic photographs and coverage photographs converge but I take many of the photos because I want people to feel part of the community. And sometimes a dramatic and interesting photograph isn’t the kind of thing you’d include in event coverage. Certain people and art is also just more dramatic and makes for better pictures. I have to avoid over-representing them.2 I also just can’t bring myself to ask people to pose for photos. It’s a thing that people like, but I don’t like to manage people like that. I tend to use the camera as a shield to prevent excessive interaction with people at large events. That’s a failing for this type of photography.
The Art Show
I’m trying to do two things. I want to show good examples of the art and give a good view of the community enjoying the art. I feel I did a decent job here.
In the main art room, there is a small second story area for the teacher’s office, storage etc. I went up those stairs to get a different view on the space. I think it works to show the size of this portion and it’s a nice change of perspective. I might have preferred a drone shot directly overhead but you work with what you have. It does a much better job than this shot taken from a more traditional perspective.
This is a pretty typical picture of one student’s collection. I was trying to show the diversity of objects but I think changing height here for a lower perspective would have helped isolate the art a bit more. Given unlimited lens options, I’d have gone with a wider lens and a shallower depth of field.
I like the people in the foreground echoing the black and white photographs in the background. I had a more dramatic example with more similarity between the expressions but deleted it as a bit too aggressive for this type of photography. I probably need to think all that through a bit more.
The lights were a challenge. I did not have a tripod. I had an external flash but I haven’t used it since dabbling with it a number of years ago. I was trying capture good pictures of both lights and people enjoying them. I thought I’d play around a bit with capturing some motion through slow shutter speeds.
Here’s one of the flash on pictures. It feels like a crime scene. I do not like them at all. Using flash well in these scenarios is going to take a lot of practice. Never a good sign when you’re watching a “how to” video on using the flash the night before. I also need a tripod but I also don’t really want to carry a tripod.
This is a bit more familiar territory. I tried to play around a bit more this time around with slower shutter speeds. I was also able to move a bit more but was still more constrained than I would like.
In general, experience and practice helps. I just need to keep taking more photos and thinking about what I’ve done. I think writing like this will help. The more I do in more diverse circumstances, the better I’ll know what to do. That will let me focus on taking interesting pictures and know what decisions will aid taking more interesting photos. It also makes me want to buy more equipment. I need a go fund me.