The Formal

The way I approach every job is different for example, Late last week I was asked to photograph a pre-formal gathering which was planned for Friday afternoon. The plan was for all to gather in the once spot with their parents before they went to their Year 12 school formal (much like a prom) in a limousine, a very large limousine at that. I was also asked if I could shoot it all in an hour or less, so this was going to be a pretty quick shoot with no real time to be artistic to a high degree. I must admit that I had some concerns on how I would achieve the desired results and this is what was going through my brain which was racing at a million miles an hour considering it was late Wednesday already.

1.  How would I capture those expressions that you only seem to capture when people aren’t looking at the camera.

2.  The amount of time that I had to do the shoot.

3.  How would I develop a relationship quickly with the people that I was photographing.

4.  How many people were going to be involved in this shoot, was it 6 or 16, I just didn’t know.

5. How much space was I going to have to work in.

These were all questions that I needed to answer and some of them wouldn’t be answered until I was actually there on location seeing what I  had to work with. So after some serious thought whilst I was sitting in traffic, (we all do it and what better time to think) I decided that I would be able to relax everyone extremely quickly by introducing some party poppers, streamers, confetti and some of those whistles that are rolled up until you blow them and then they make that ridiculous noise plus this also helped with me getting the shots that I needed to create that party atmosphere with relaxed crowd. 

I also figured that by using these “props” would also break the ice considering that I was really unable to develop a relationship with each and every person that was going to be photographed. I also had no idea how many people were going to be there, I did ask and was told probably 6 but with most things these days, have a back up plan and sure enough there was about 12 at one stage, twice as many as originally planned and I also didn’t plan on having the parents of all of this young people ask “Would I mind if I took a photo of them with…..”. Of course the response was No, Not at all, please jump in and have some fun and well get some shots.

This method turned out to be quite effective and really lightened the mood because when asked to stand in front of the camera and those ever imposing lights, the majority just brace up like they are getting the drivers license or their prison photo taken. Its not the case but I really didn’t have time to develop a relationship with each and every individual that had their photo taken, so getting them to relax quickly was a priority if I was going to achieve the look that I wanted. Smiling, acting naturally and having some fun at the same time.

The biggest question that I was asked was “When will I see the photos?”. I made a promise to all of them that I would upload at least 50 images by Sunday night and they could then download their favourite photos from my website which meant that I was going to have to work the majority of the weekend to meet the deadline. I ensured that I had them uploaded by Sunday afternoon and within 3 hours, over 60 photos had been downloaded and paid for.

So with a bit of thought about the short notice job on how I would approach it has paid off with the results that I and the client wanted to achieve.

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