Belfast Children’s Festival

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I dont blog as much as i used due to time constraints but this post is going to make up for that.

Never have i undertaken a photo shoot that has lasted a whole week!

Never have i undertaken a photo shoot that has created so much content!

Never have i been so tired!

After finishing a job like this i have honestly found it hard to start taking about it because there was so much happening all at once.

I decided at the start that to keep on top of everything i would edit the images at the end of each day and that actually worked with exception to one of the days.  Once i picked out the days best images i would finish the edits then upload to an online area where the Young At Art team could check them out.

Vicki (one of the organisers) didn’t give me a specific brief but told me what events she wanted covered.  The rest was up to me.  I was excited to get started.  Kids are amazing.  Their unpredictable nature is so inspiring and they throw themselves in to their environments with crazy amounts of energy.  And they forget about cameras in minutes.

I just picked up a new camera several days before.  Whilst most of the controls are the same on the D3s compared to my older D700 it was still a steep learning curve, especially since the D3s has HD video.

Each day was completely different from the last.

I found my self moving through the different venues many times through out the week and every time i visited the spaces something different was happening.  Different people, different performances and different atmospheres.

This in itself created a problem.  There was for most of the time so much to photograph it was difficult to know where to start.  And when i eventually did start it was so hard to stop!  So it was a very fine balance.  I had to take enough images to capture the events and shows but not take so many that i would be swamped with the editing afterwards.  I had after all other work to complete for different clients whilst the festival was happening.

In terms of hardware for this festival i had everything i needed.  I had to keep it to a minimum though as i had to carry it all in one backpack and because i was moving around different venues within the city carrying loads of kit would be impractical.

My main camera was the Nikon D3s.  A camera that is built like a tank; important when kids are around.  I had 4 speedlights as well to help add light when needed.  The SB600, 700, 800 and 900 which was usually used as a commander.  I kept to the three general lens groups.  Wide, medium and short telephoto.  These were the 18-35, 24-70 and 70-200 VR.  I also chucked in the 50mm F1.8 just in case.  Even this added up to a fair bit of weight.

There are always “issues” when photographing people in public spaces and this gets even more grey when children are involved.  When i take a large camera out of my bag with a large lens attached it always draws attention.  Parents are rightly protective over their children and thankfully only one parent objected to me photographing their child.  In these situations, people now a days have learned to expect photographers to be in attendance.  How ever i generally found approaching families with a smile always helped and 99% of the time people were only happy to let me take their photo.

Being a freelance photographer you are often placed in the situation were the client doesn’t quite know what they need.  They understand their own requirements for photographs but they some times are unsure how to cr

eate the image.  You have to inspire them and give them options.  Over the years i have learnt when to step up and take charge and when to sit back and listen.  This festival would see me taking charge.  Where ever i went it was always going to be up to me to create the options and to look for the images.  This often meant checking out a space then creating a series of images from the people there or using a long lens to hover in the background and let the action unfold.

Any of the performances that i sat in on how ever i had to adopt the later option.  I had to stay out the of the road and towards the back of the space so i wasn’t disturbing the audience and the performers.  Thankfu

lly the D3s has a quiet mode which dampens the sound of the shutter firing.  So instead

of that loud clunk click sound a much more damped noise is emitted when i took a shot.  Sneaky!

As part of the festival Replay Productions premiered their show called, “Marianne Dreams” in The Lyric Theatre Belfast.  There a few photos at the end of this gallery.  I will be doing a separate post about those images soon, they are quite unique!

All in all i had a fantastic experience through doing the festival.  I genuinely have never been as tired or as exhausted after a job but i can put my hand on my heart and say i would do it again tomorrow if i was asked.

Neil.

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