I shot an actual assignment yesterday...a dear family friend, Ned Schley, died a few months ago, and yesterday's memorial service at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center downtown drew a huge crowd. Grimmy (it's short for "Grandma Imy") asked me to take some pictures.
I'm very good at shooting over-the-shoulder portraits in crowds (long practice), but it's tough to get to everybody when there are 350 people in the crowd! Even the Mayor of Milwaukee came (but just as a family friend). And of course Ned's relatives came from the four corners of the U.S. of A.
I don't shoot assignments any more, of course (asked what kind of photographer I am, I usually answer "I'm a writer"), but I learned an old lesson over again...if you want to mark yourself as an official photographer at an event, a photo vest is good, but shooting with two cameras is even better. An amateur might have a good camera, but no amateur has two good cameras around his or her neck.
I did it for a rather silly reason...I only have a 35mm-e for the NEX-6 and the only 85mm I currently have is for the A900. If I wanted to shoot with two focal lengths, I had to take two cameras. (Hey, I don't do this as a job any more.)
I was reminded of how effective this is when I went up to the bar and asked for a glass of lemonade. The bartender looked me up and down like I was breaking the rules! No drinks for the hired help. Pretty funny. I first met Ned when I was seven and he was my best friend's rather formidable pipe-smoking dad. That's been a while.
There was a time when I shot a lot of stuff like this, and of course back then it was just work. These days when I get a chance to do it it's kind of fun, and even a bit rejuvenating. I might put up a few more pictures from the event in a few days.
But now it's 82 degrees and sunny, and I'm off to spend more time with the Schley family at the lakeshore. (I think I'll take two cameras. But then again, everyone out there already knows I'm the official photographer.)
Ned didn't draw a crowd because he was famous or a local bigwig; he was just a nice guy and lots of people liked him. I'm definitely in that group. I only shed a few tears one time; I was working.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
m3photo: "'I'm very good at shooting over-the-shoulder portraits in crowds (long practice)….' By the looks of the angle in the shot, extremely long arms too…. ;-) "
Mike replies: No, I meant things like this:
Trouble is, I only got about 35 of these, and that was something like one-tenth of all the people who were there.
There's a certain sort of "Euromag" style of shooting in cocktail-party-like crowds with a wide angle (and usually flash), letting all sorts of weird cutoffs and juxapositions and dissociated body parts fill the frame, but I don't particularly like the style and I'm not particularly good at it. My opinion is that occasionally that style works magic, but mostly it's just chaotic and arbitrary. That's just me. But then, I am me...so I tend to do the things I like and do well and don't do the things I don't like and don't do well. (Larry Fink is an example of someone who is extremely good at that style, and whose work I do like.)