X-entricity is a very talented musical youth theatre group. 3 years ago I was approached by their director shortly before their dress rehearsals for Grease. Jane was keen to get photos to continue a long tradition of photographing both front of house and backstage. Her husband had taken photos for several years but he had tragically died. I was of course happy to help.
Jane was very pleased with the photos I took and asked me back to take promotional photos for Priscilla Queen of the Desert and I took dress rehearsal photos as well. The show was sold out.
In 2018 I was asked to take photos of the dress rehearsal of Guys & Dolls.
Theatre photography pushes cameras to their limits - particularly musicals and dance. The lighting is often low and changes rapidly. There can be fast and unpredictable movement of actors on stage which mean you can't lower the shutter speed too far. A scene that starts with one or two actors can fill with the chorus line over a matter of seconds. Your telephoto lens can suddenly prove to be the wrong lens.
This year I was able to use 2 camera bodies - one with a telephoto the other with a wide angled lens. I use a variety of single and double camera straps so that even with 2 cameras I can easily move to get different prospectives of the performance.
To be honest I've forgotten how I first came to take photos of Hereford soul band The Hey Yahs. I've taken photos at a couple of small pub gigs, a major project recording a performance at The Courtyard Theatre Hereford and a promotional photo shoot.
The Courtyard performance involved me setting up 3 fixed cameras to video, a roaming DSLR on a tripod for video and a separate hand held DSLR for photography. I'd also put 2 small sound recorders to record audio and persuaded the live sound man to record audio from the mixing desk.
If that sounds a bit much for one person you are probably right! Particularly because 2 of cameras videoing only recorded 20 minutes at a time before they needed to be manually restarted.
I needed to mix the audio recordings first then synchronise the stereo file I produced to the 4 video streams. Then edit the video.
The main learning point was not to try videoing and photographing at the same time by myself. Well at least not for something I'd charge for.
Parkrun is a free weekly 5km timed run which takes place at 9:00 every Saturday at a wide variety of venues round the country. I was part of the team that set up Hereford parkrun in 2014. I was soon taking photos every Saturday whether I was running or not. I upgraded my telephoto lens then my DSLR to improve the quality of photos. I learnt to rapidly select and process 100-200 photos out of the roughly 600 I took each week. I would post these as an album on Flickr and a select dozen on Facebook by early that afternoon. I received loads of appreciative comments, the most touching being people who would regularly view albums even when away or out of the country to keep in touch with Hereford.
My sports photography really improved with the regular volume of photos I was taking, processing, publishing and getting feedback on. This practiced workflow means that I have managed to post online photos hours and in one case a couple of days before the official photographer at a couple of other running events.
I took photos at about 120 Hereford parkruns. I stopped in late 2017. It was taking 5 or 6 hours an event and I accepted I wasn't ever going to get paid for it. What I couldn't accept was parkrun HQ gradually changing the rules to reduce photographers ownership of their photos. The parkrun photography policy now states that photographers will post their photos to a site under parkrun control then delete the photos from their camera and hard drive.
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