Most photographers cringe at the thought of group shots – so many faces to keep track of, how to manage getting everyone’s eyes open, everyone looking at the camera and smiling, no hidden faces, no bad shadows on someone’s face. You get the idea. A veritable nightmare.
When I was a photojournalist I’d try to limit group sizes with justifications like ” There’s more impact with fewer people in the photo.”. Thankfully, it usually worked.
So the phone rang a while back – it was a business colleague wondering if I’d be interested in doing a photo shoot of a choral group. “No problem, I’d love to do it.”
Did I ask how large the choral group was? No.
Another small thing I hadn’t counted on – assembling nearly 100 people is no small feat – and it doesn’t happen very often. When it does, they’re ready for a concert…translate that into there’s not much time to shoot. OK, I’ll admit maybe I should have thought of that, but I was pretty consumed by solving the lighting parts of the problem. Did I call that a small thing – long live sarcasm!
Three days before the shoot the final details were worked out – I’ll have a window from 7:15 until 7:30 to shoot and then tear down my equipment before the doors are opened to the public for the concert! Suddenly I needed an assistant, one who knows how to set up big strobes, adjust them and tear down in a hurry. The choice was obvious – my 13-year-old daughter has been around lighting gear almost as much as me. She’s good and she takes directions and orders ( as long as its about photography…anything else, she’s even more stubborn than me!) After some intense negotiating surrounding pay, we struck an agreement and I had my assistant. Good thing too because in the Murphy’s Law of Lighting, there was no electricity where I wanted to position two of the lights. I was so flustered I didn’t see the solution – she did, and not a moment too soon. We had time for 6 test shots to check the light, then 16 photos with the 97 members of Portsmouth Pro Musica, then tear down and run with our gear so nobody would crash into it.
Technically, the photo was lit using 4 large strobes, 2 alien bee’s and 2 profotos. All were set to full power, we managed shooting at ISO 400 at F/8 with an 80mm lens.
Absolutely a wonderful challange and a type of photo way out of the ordinary for me…and my assistant! We did catch a bit of the dress rehearsal/warmup. These folks are really good and I’d whole heartedly recommend catching them some night. Here’s a link to their concert schedule, http://www.portsmouthpromusica.org/concertinformation.html . Put it on your to do list!
Here’s one of the 16 photos we shot.