Photographing at my first wedding in May, I found it a very pressured experience, but this last week I’ve been engaging in a different kind of event photography. Together with my friend Mabel Forsyth I’ve been photographing for the Africa-in-Motion film festival, one of the largest African film festivals outside Africa. This involves us photographing at selected events (the organisers have not booked us for every one of the myriad events that make up the festival) and ensuring images taken in the evening are available for press use by the next morning. There is a pressure in doing that, because there are usually a substantial number of images that need to have quick edits performed on them and made ready within hours of the event happening – no 15 months for edits allowed here!!
I have found all this (a kind of photojournalism, I suppose) to have a certain appeal: composition and ‘getting it right first time’ are important here, as is the need to quickly assess an image as 1) good, 2) good enough provided it’s edited a bit, or 3) not good enough/rubbish (hopefully not too many in the third category!), and then thinking about which edits are needed to improve each image. Having edited more than several hundred images in a couple of nights, I realise that the only edits that I have really been performing are related to cropping, occasional red-eye removal, adjusting/lifting exposure, and noise reduction. For sorting, editing and exporting large numbers of images very quickly, Adobe’s Lightroom 3 has been simply invaluable: I haven’t needed to open Photoshop once (Photoshop will be used for editing a selection of images for high quality print usage after the Festival, of course).
One of the interesting things about my crops that I have noticed is that most of them have automatically become 4×5 crops. Without consciously realising it, I have made this my default crop size for portraits; I was aware I was doing this (or going with completely square images) for landscapes, but I’ve been shooting just (environmental) portraits these last few days. The standard 6×4 size that SLRs produce (for historical reasons, it’s the size that 35mm film went with) is too long and thin for me and I generally prefer squarer shapes. That much I knew. But after editing over 200 images in one evening, I realised that most of them had ended up in 4×5 format too… an interesting little development on my part, I think.
The festival is still going strong at the time of writing, ending next week with a fashion show – I’m looking forward to that!
There is a gallery of images here from the festival that I’ll occasionally add to as time goes by (especially from the fashion show), but the festival Facebook page and (I think) the website are showing more images, including ones by Mabel – so check out the photographs and if you are nearby, go to some of the excellent events being organised in the festival!