Tatas for Toys
Aaron Ross and the gang at Who’s the Ross put on a benefit raising money to buy toys for the kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. For the last seven years Aaron has put together a show with local exotic dancers, musicians, and comedians. This year they raised over $5000. It’s a damn worthy cause to volunteer for.
Shooting these shows are generally straight forward; get pictures of everyone and everything important. There’s generally no room for abstract creative images, that’s not the job. Well, at least that’s not what clients are looking for. This event is not that much different. I have all the creative freedom I want with Aaron, but I know what he’s looking for. I’ve shot a fair number of the Who’s The Ross shows at Dante’s and I used that as a baseline for how I was going to shoot this show.
I get there early so people are used to seeing me with a camera and I try to photograph all the players throughout the night.
I rarely talk about my process, but I’ll give it a try.
When shooting an event I like to get there early. I want to know all the talent, I want to know the scene, and most importantly, I want to know the lighting. There is no substitute for being ready for the job at hand.
Once we get the green light and everything’s a go, I try to find my best spots to shoot from and pay attention to everything that moves, and some things that don’t, like mic stands. Every photographer sees the scene and subject differently while looking through the camera’s viewfinder. The way we approach composition is going to be dependent on each artist. I can’t really say what I’m looking for. I just know when I see it. I rely heavily on pre-visualization while I’m shooting though. I am always thinking about the completed image before I ever press that shutter button. Those are things I’ve worked out before the show starts though. I like to create a mental note early. I’m also thinking about how I’m going to edit the RAW image files in Adobe Lightroom before the show starts. I keep the client in mind the entire time. In some cases the client gets higher priority in the way I shoot. If you they want, you work that into that mental note. However, I’m not just shooting for the client, I’m shooting for the subject, and myself. It’s a lot to juggle in my head, it’s kinda fun though.
An image is more than an attractive subject. This is true for me at least. The fun part for me when shooting a live event is getting a good image when I can’t control all the moving parts. It’s fun to create a compelling image of an artist with all the chaos happening around them. I like shooting for a visual theme with all the images I deliver. Making images that stand on their own is great, but it’s never what a client wants when shooting an entire event.
There was one thing that worked in my favor, the light. The quality of light at Dante’s is pretty damn good. Dante’s has a really big stage, it’s about 18 inches too high for my taste though. The light is really good, better than most venues, that’s for sure. For the Who’s the Ross shows, they keep the key lights bright white and the fill lights have color. They do a great job. I love working there.
I learn something new from every show that I shoot, this show was no different.
Some of my favorite images of the talented performers that made this event so special: