Sunday, November 9, 2014


The subject of a recent senior portrait is Alex, a musician. From the start I was enthusiastic about this job because there was a good chance we would shoot a performance. When I found out he was also one of three drum majors in the marching band I knew we had a great story to tell.

His family wanted picture choices, and we began with Alex in orchestra mode, posed alone on campus with his main instrument.  Later in that session he changed into his drum major get-up and we used the football stadium as a backdrop.  It was October and this is where he “lives” in the fall.

The second session was the Senior Night Football event, the last home game of the season.  It’s a school tradition here to individually recognize all seniors associated with the game: players, performers, trainers, and announcers.  

FINALLY, after Alex and his parents paused at midfield with the principal and ban director, we got to the action part of the evening.  

The Drum Major “job” is always a leadership position, but the specifics vary with the band director’s vision.  At this school they basically conduct the band and eschew the classic ostentatious uniform and dance routine.  That meant I had picture opportunities in the bleachers and at the half time performance.

Fortunately for me, the band was totally into their loud music role and proud to show it.  Because he stands in front, I could frame Alex with the band and simultaneously separate him against the dark night sky or the green field.  That setting gives the image a strong focal point.  

Occasionally 8 to 10 performers would crowd a drum major (Shelby is in the center) and play a two minute improv as loud as possible, daring their conductor to bear the stress.  I love working with folks that express their skill and dedication this way.  

Ben is about to get the same treatment here.

At half time I shot a few wide views of the band, but I soon realized I had a problem standing mid-field on the sideline.  My location was a poor view of the drum majors, and I couldn’t walk out on the field because everyone else was shooting the band.  

The view from the bleachers on the other side of the field would be perfect: Alex conducting infront of a sea of feathered hats.  I had the long lens to make that setting work but I didn’t have time to run 50 yards to the goal posts, 50 yards across the field, and another 50 yards and up into the midfield bleachers.  

I had to settle for oblique angle shots that kept me out of view of other photographers.  That turned out to be an acceptable composition, and I could maintain the separation I like.  If I had planned the halftime better than I did, or used a second shooter, I could have made a more dramatic shot of Alex.  Maybe next year, when Ben and Shelby return.

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