Monday, September 5, 2011

Photographing the Awards Ceremony

The more I thought about it, this topic just fits better with the previous post than what I'm piecing together for the next one. I just had a few comments about shooting the awards portion of a competition. The main theme is: try to think beyond the standard shot.

As usual, images link to bigger versions.

The standard (awards) shot

A shot from the Bayside Ball 3
that turned out okay

Most of the time, I'm not assertive
enough to get them to look at me.

At Camp H, I'm kind of far away,
and off to the left.
You know, I actually kind of suck at getting what I consider "the standard shot." You know, either the top three or five winners gathered together in a little clump. It's kind of an expected shot that some people will want for their memories. I've been trying shooting from a low POV, but should probably try standing up or something. Technically, there's not a whole lot of variety but I recommend:
  • Just use a standard 50mm lens and walk up to the point you want the shot. Try not to go under 35mm. Take a few steps back if you want to go wider.
  • Pay attention to the framing - faces should probably be around one-third of the way down from the top(standard "rule of thirds"). If you put them in the center, then you'll have a lot of dead space at the top of frame that you'll probably end up cropping out later anyway.
  • Use rapid-fire mode and squeeze off two or three shots. Inevitably, someone will look to the side or blink. In fact, do a few sets of two or three shots, just in case your autofocus misbehaves.
  • If you're using flash, try to set the flash at 1/2 power or lower so that it will be able to flash for a couple rapid-fire shots.
  • Do as I say, not as I do 1: try to get the attention of the winners and give them some kind of signal. Ask them to stand closer together or "could I get a shot of everyone together?" - just something to get their attention so they know to look at you. Give them a countdown like a "3, 2, 1..." (example on the right of not getting their attention)
  • Do as I say, not as I do 2: if you want this shot, just run out there, front on and take the shot. Generally, there's not that much going on, so you're not going to annoy the audience by blocking something. That being said, once you get your shot, back up and get out of everyone else's shot. (example on the right of both not running out and not getting their attention)
BTW, iif you have the biggest camera in the room and you run out in front of them, you'll probably get their attention. Also, if you notice that you're the only one in the room with an SLR, consider it your duty to get the shot. :)

This all being said, I don't think "the standard shot" is the sweet shot at an awards ceremony.

Other Awards Shots

Maybe it's a just an issue with me, but I prefer taking candid shots to posed shots. Sometimes, there will be a cool pose or just something funny that just happens spontaneously.

In that last one, I think Kim and Dave did 8-10 helicopters in a row - in the awards ceremony, an encore of something they did in a contest.

The run to the stage

And this finally brings me to: my favorite shots that I've taken at awards are actually the run to the stage, and trying to get a shot of the sincere unbridled joy of someone finding out that they placed or won, and their friends around them supporting them.

For this, do a little research. Before the presentations start, scope out the audience and try to locate the competitors. Try to get a feel for where everyone is sitting/standing. At Camp Hollywood, usually I see most of the competitors hang out in the seats on the right hand side of the room (stage left), and a small cluster in the back left of the room. Try to memorize where specific people are, like your friends and/or people that you thought did really well. If you see someone win something, well, they might win again - keep track of where they were sitting.

At Camp Hollywood, I'll sacrifice the front-on standard shot and stand off to the left a little to get a better shot of the competitors off to the right, and also keep track of who's off to my left.

Here's some shots from Camp Hollywood 2009-2011 and Inspiration Weekend 2011.

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