I had another realization after the performance about my purpose as a photographer. Of course I went down to the stage at the end to congratulate Alex and make the poor kid stand for a couple more photos by mom. He is used to it, and he loves the photos after the fact, but at the time I usually hear something like, “Mom, hurry up! I have to go.” I’m pretty good with the speedy portraits after two decades of shooting weddings. Before I arrived at the stage, I had planned my shot. I passed by a woman photographing her three kids where they stood….standing among the auditorium seats (which are black), as she struggled amid the crowd to back up far enough and focus in the dark with some strong lights pointed right into her camera. This happened in a flash, so I didn’t think to advise her….but I saw all of the problems with her photo before she even pressed the shutter.
Alex was still on stage. I moved him a few feet and asked him to go up to the third riser so that I could fill the frame with balloons and put him right in the middle. I didn’t bring a flash, and wouldn’t bother to use one anyway because the school does great theater lighting for their performances. If they went to all that trouble, why shouldn’t I use it? I got my shot, I let Alex go, and I was halfway out of the auditorium building when I suddenly realized that I should try to help someone else take a better photo too. THIS suddenly felt like the point!
I ran back to the theater and saw one mom in scrubs trying to get a shot of her bald eagle holding a bunch of balloons….from the wrong direction, with the wrong backdrop, and a nearly empty stage at her disposal. Without asking as much as telling, I offered to help her get a better photo. I grabbed the balloons, tied them back to the risers, turned the eagle around to take advantage of the great stage lighting (that she had been fighting, by shooting into the lights), and took a few shots of my own after showing her that now it didn’t matter what kind of camera she had….she was going to get a better photo. Making all of those decisions and repositioning her daughter took no more than 20 seconds. The improvement in her photos is off the charts. I’ll send her mine as well, but I doubt she needs them.
I left the auditorium again and remembered one of the things I love so much about photography. I love teaching other people to do it better in really easy, simple ways. I forget that normal people don’t think about photography nearly as much as I do and they don’t shoot even a fraction of the images I do. I am always learning, always finding new and better ways to see and shoot. I have learned most of what I know through trial and error…lots of error!
I take a ridiculous amount of photos as a mom, and I know so many moms that want to take a photography class….someday. I once gave one of my best clients a private lesson and had a lot of fun in the process. I gave another client some great info about how to use Photoshop better. MWACs (moms with a camera) get ready! I am here to help you all be better photographers….we all need better photos of our kids.