Our town turned 50 this year, and the Parade Commissioner asked for my help. His photographer bailed out on him, so they wanted me to snap a nice portrait of our Mayor with his family in an antique convertible. They had a 16 x 20 frame already, and they wanted this portrait as a gift to the Mayor.
Sounds do-able, right? Here's the thing. This was to be a surprise gift. The portrait needed to be taken at the beginning of the parade and the photo needed to be delivered in time to frame it and present it at the end of the parade. Let that sink in for a second... No pressure, right?
A week ago, forecasters suggested a fifty percent chance of rain for Sunday. The Commish and I decided that this portrait's location would be the Village Hall, before the car was driven to the start of the parade. Now, our Village Hall is not ugly, but it's not an ideal background for a portrait. There are too many light poles, flag poles, parking signs, etc. It's just not the idealistically simple background for family portraits.
The forecast changed, and we ended up with a mostly sunny day. Is that good news? It depends. Now, I'm not to expect diffused light, but this light will make harsh contrasts and force people to squint. Here is the car and its owner:
Notice all the distracting background elements and harsh effects of the strong sunlight on the driver. I walked around with my 50mm lens, looking for a good location, and when I found one, I had to stand there for almost an hour, asking people to park elsewhere, because that's where I was going to snap a portrait of the Mayor.
I knew that I was going to have to be ready to get my shots in quick, and not waste anybody's time, so I nabbed a few people at the scene, and did some practice shots until I felt I had a good handle on the situation. When Mayor Roger Claar and his family arrived, it seemed that everybody needed to get his attention for one thing or another. That was no surprise. I said hello, and told them where we would be taking the shot.
As I ushered them towards the car, another photographer started taking pics. They were happy to look to his camera and listen to his direction, but I don't think they know that his assertiveness could potentially ruin their surprise. This is why I need an assistant. ...and assistant with a taser. This guy deserved to be removed from the scene, but how do will their smiles look if there is tension in the air? He was distracting and annoying to me, but we can't let that ruin my picture.
After I fired three shots off, I knew I had what I needed, and they could then apply sunblock and put a hat on the baby. Meanwhile, I rushed to a spot where I could crop the pic for 16 x 20 and email it to Kinko's where the job had been prepaid, and the manager was waiting for my call to start printing the pic. When I got there, it was almost done, and I got out of there surprisingly fast. The parade had more attenders than ever before, and I had to park creatively in order to get my photo print to the person who would put it in a frame.
All's well that ends well. The Parade Commissioner was happy with my service and the family was happy with their portrait. I hope this leads to some good freelance opportunities. Time will tell. Here is a 4 x 6 version of the original shot:
And here is the car's owner. He suggested to me that they should be facing the other way because of the sun, but I like how the hard light created a nice rim effect, while I used my flash for fill.
A month ago I was able to take a portrait of the head of a local business (left) with U.S. Congressman Peter Roskam (right). Long story short, I took prep pics in that spot with other people, so that when they came out of their meeting, I put them in position and fired off two quick snapshots. The first one was perfect, but I took a second, just in case.