Sunday, February 14, 2010

A new personal record at the Father/Daughter Dance!

Wow, what a night!  The McKitrick Elementary Father/Daughter Dance was a whopping success and I set a new personal record for portraits!

I got to the dance very early because it had been raining all day and I was worried about my equipment getting wet when I tried to bring it in to the cafeteria. Luckily, fate was on my side because it stopped raining just long enough for me to unload my truck.

I set up a white, 10 x 20 backdrop, 2 AB800's with soft boxes, and 1 AB800 to light the background. Normally I would set up my main light and fill light at about 45° from the camera but Friday night I knew I was going to be taking a lot of pictures very quickly and I couldn't be as demanding about creativity and shadow as I would normally be. So, I moved my main light a little bit closer to the camera to about 15°. This meant I wasn't going to get much shadow but it also meant that I could work fast and be sure that everyone was lit.

After I got set up I had some time to kill, so I walked around and took pictures of the decorations. I do want to take a moment to point out, as is usually the case with these events, the entire room was full of women. Keep in mind that the dance was sponsored by the Tomcats, the father organization at the school, of which I am a member.

I wasn't really expecting to get any pictures of decorations and food that would rival the sort of things that I get when I work a wedding. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the baking committee had gone all out. It was very hard being on a diet last Friday night!

I started taking pictures before the doors officially opened and I was still taking pictures when the lights came up at the end of the night. I never got to step out of the Teachers Lounge where I was set up and enjoy the dance at all, which didn't go over too well with my daughter Samantha. Sometimes daddy just has to work. (Although I wasn't actually "working" because I wasn't being paid. I donated my services to raise money for the school.)

When the night was over I had shot 180 portraits in 120 minutes. I averaged three shots per portrait. That's 540 pictures total, an average of one picture every 22 seconds. 22 seconds may seem like a long time to take one picture but remember that also includes the time it took for the father and daughter to walk into the room, take off their coats, sit down and be posed by me, take a picture, then get up and leave the room so the next father and daughter could come in. Luckily, I got a great help from one of the moms at organizing the people who were waiting in line.

Everyone who knows me know's that I was a Disc Jockey and comedian for 20 years and old habits die hard. As a result, I still tend to think a little bit like a comedian and I'm constantly looking for ways to be funny. I missed a golden opportunity on Friday night. I was talking to Alicia Graham, whose husband Earnest Graham is a running back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I've become friends with Earnest and Alicia both and so I felt it was safe to ask for a small favor. My father recently had cancer surgery and he's a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan so I asked Alicia, "if I bring you a football do you think you could get Earnest to sign it for me so I could give it to my dad."

Alicia said, "of course! What's his name?"

"Booray," I replied.

Actually, I didn't say that. I said "Tom," which is my father's name. It wasn't until I was driving home that night that I realized I had missed a great opportunity. It would have been hilarious if I had said, "Booray." 

Bobbi and I worked on the pictures Saturday and Sunday. I've already got them uploaded to the lab so they should be here by the middle of next week. Then, all we have to do is sort them, bag them and deliver them to the school. I think the pictures turned out great even if I did have to shoot at a breakneck pace. I think that the moms are going to be very pleased to see these great pictures of their husbands and their daughters at the dance.
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