Wow, I might as well just call this blog Beer and Photography. Most of my work these days seems to revolve around beer in one form or another: events, products, process. It’s a tough burden to carry.
Let’s get right to the point of this conversation: as a photographer, should you separate work from fun? The answer to that is going to be different for everyone. The question is really about balance and finding the right combination of work and play. At the extremes of the spectrum are places like total objectivity and complete immersion. For photography, total objectivity is like shooting fish behind glass where where people and activities become examined specimens. On the other hand, complete immersion can become a scary place if you forget to say, shoot the event because you’re so caught up in the action yourself.
It all boils down to understanding your subject. In this case, the subject was the Deschutes Street Fare. On the surface, an event is just an event. It doesn’t get interesting and unique until you break it down into it’s components: food, music, beer. But the devil is in the details, and we want to get much more granular by asking questions about these broader categories. For music, these questions are important to me: who is playing the music, both individually and as a group? How are they interacting with or affecting the audience? How are they interacting with each other? What piece are they in the bigger picture of the whole event? Answering these questions with photos can make it much easier to figure out how to cover an event.
As a self-titled connoisseur of food, beer, and music, asking these questions and being immersed in an event event like this comes naturally. With a connection already in place, it’s easy to fall into the rhythm of the event and seek out all of the aspects you want to cover. This is the perfect scenario for me as a photographer. It makes my job easier and hopefully I can translate my enthusiasm into great photography.
But what if you are not attached to an event? Most of us can’t absolutely love every single assignment, but if you can still break it down into a series of questions that need to be answered, you can still get great shots of the next Guinea Pig Olympics for your client. Is the event more about the owners or the animals? How are the animals treated? How can the competition versus comradery be measured? Is there nothing more savage than a Guinea Pig owner and can you capture their essence? Coming up with these questions and answering them with your camera can lead you through the whole event.
In the end, I was once again guided by the Ten percent Rule: I shot around 1000 photos, was happy with about 100, and really liked 10. It’s still a low rate of return, but ultimately I’m happy with it. You have to take some chances to get truly great shots, and with those chances there are a lot of mistakes.