Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Awards in spite of the snow

The trouble with planning ahead, of course, is that, very often you can't predict what might happen in between now and the time you are planning for. As if to prove this point, I recently found myself having to reschedule arrangements in order to photograph an awards night for a new corporate client.

The problem was actually something which neither I nor my client could prevent - the weather. Specifically, the snow. And, come to think of it, how typical that in the weeks before and weeks that followed, the snow did not pose nearly half as much of a threat to our activities!

But, look, you've probably heard just about enough about the snow if you're over here in the UK, so let's talk about the shoot...

All said and done on the arrangements front, I did finally manage to get to the location - the local Guildhall - in plenty of time. With all bags and cases decanted, the first thing to do was was have a run through the brief with those concerned. Even though timings often shift throughout the evening (as they did here), it is important to have a framework which allows us to make the most of our opportunities on the night.

The next 30 minutes or so were then spent wandering around the reception bar area, where guests slowly arrived for a pre-meal drink. I covered this with a two-camera set-up, which allowed me to switch between close-up grab shots from a distance and posed/semi-posed images of couples and small groups, as and when they presented themselves. I really like the flexibility of this approach which, by default, lends itself to the production of a wide variety of photographs.

Following a few 'table' shots, and with everyone now seated, I headed upstairs to get a bird's-eye-view of the main hall. With an ultra-wide lens fitted on a camera bolted securely to a tripod, and a relatively long exposure, I was able to capture the low-light atmosphere of the room. You'll notice how people's movement appears to be blurred in places; I really like this effect and every time I create it, I am reminded to put the technique into practice more often!

The final part of my brief was a set of award presentation shots, for which I had to stand up on stage. On this occasion, the approach was not my typical one, and was actually far from perfect. Due to the fact that the client had television cameras filming the whole sequence, I had to remain very much 'in the wings', shooting on a long lens at people with a less-than-favourable background.

I suppose we are perfectionists, and so this did not sit well with me. One of the first things you learn to do as a photographer is to check that your backgrounds are smart and uncluttered; unfortunately, on this occasion, they were neither. But I was governed by the situation and the pictures were technically very good, so this was just one of those occasions where you grin and bear it.

A few final grab shots of performers on stage rounded off the night, before I once again headed out into the cold. I was lucky to get a train back home (the roads were not suitable for driving) as I had put in some extra time and it was a 50/50 chance whether I'd catch the last one.

All that then remained to be done was the editing. All pictures were online for the client to view the following day and a disk containing those same images was sent out in the next available post.

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