Yesterday was a very busy day. The morning started with a cute little baby, then school and rounded out with shooting for a charity event, Fashion Aid III, sponsored by iSelect Insurance.
I was lucky enough to be one of the photographers selected to work the event, I mean volunteer to work the event. And it’s an opportunity I would gladly accept again tomorrow. But one thing I know. If I’m going to shoot social events I’m going to have to study a who’s who guide. Some of the folks expect you to know who they are, others will act like they are someone when you’re pretty sure they’re not. Then there are the ladies who know how to work the red carpet. It seems like they may practise their poses for hours before they arrive.
As I arrived early I ducked in to the main room of the Palladium when I heard Jessica going through her soundcheck. It was great. From that point on I was settled (from my previous nerves) and looking forward to the night ahead.
Fashion Aid III was a charity event, of the 40 or so student photographers who were invited to shoot I think about 15 showed. Poor form on the part of the students who chose not to honour a commitment. And of the 15 that attended only about five of us were left at midnight, our official quitting time.
Aside from the student photogs there were also about 10 professional shooters, some shooting for newspapers, others for fashion magazines. The red carpet was a washout. I referred to it as a shark pit last night and stand by that in the light of the day. First of all we were all supposed to stay behind the barrier (a rope sash), when the first celebrity-like guest arrived that rule was instantly broken. In fact I was the only one remaining behind the rope.
I also now know why professional photographers “machine gun” their shots on the red carpet. On the off chance that everyone’s flash goes off at once you end up with a massive white frame. If they shoot in quick succession they are more likely to get a clean shot out of it. The example below is one of the ones I kept, I was deleting images as I went. The other reason I didn’t shoot massive amounts of photos was out of fear I’d run out of memory on my cards.
Being one of the tallest I courteously stayed back, let the shorter shooters in front. BIG MISTAKE. I ended up with a lot of shots that looked like the one below as the photographers shot blind over the heads of those in front of them.
So next time, no more mister nice guy. Really though, who am I kidding, I am a nice guy. Not sure I could get too pushy and in the end one of the paid guys was nice, offered his metal camera case for me to stand on so I could see over the other photographers. Didn’t really work though. First of all the celebes were all tiny and made eye-contact more with those in their direct line of site, and being higher up didn’t stop the blind shooters I mentioned before sticking their camera up in my way.
In the end I abandoned the red carpet and went to the end of the red carpet. You don’t get the best shots from there but I did manage to talk briefly to Jessica Mauboy’s publicist from Sony and was able to take a portrait of Ms Mauboy. I was stoked that I had the guts to a) talk to the rep and b) to ask Jessica to stand where I wanted her. Didn’t quite get her lined up where I wanted, but didn’t want to push my luck and was still happy with the result. She then went off to do more interviews on her way through.
Shot a few more of the celebrities, probably can’t say too much about them for fear of saying the wrong things. Suffice it to say some of them dress as they are expected to dress. Others are fully prepared and revel in the red carpet parade. They are ready, they have their poses down. Some of them have a crazed look in their eyes, yet only about one in twenty were people who walked the red carpet I could recognise.
1,200 guests and less than 100 of them would have walked the carpet, the rest opting to go round the back. Some of them walked the carpet twice.
The event finally officially started at 7:30. There was a quick whip around where they asked the folks for more money (having already paid at the very least $220 per seat for a table of 10). This was followed by a talk from the CEO of Mission Australia extolling the virtues of their work. Finally introducing a young kid who has been helped by Mission Australia.
The introduction included his talk about how his two 17 year old girls have progressed beyond shopping at Target, how they now insist on shopping at stores along Chapel Street, Sass and Bide being their favourite. Perhaps it was his way of trying to connect with the audience who clearly aren’t too bad off. It just seemed a little bit wrong to talk of opulence when introducing some poor kid to say how great you are.
The kid talked about how his family had dealt with alcoholism, petty crime and abuse. How Mission Australia had turned his life around and how it hadn’t always been easy. His story was, at times, heart wrenching, but he was well groomed (in both the look and the way he presented). His story may well have been better received had it not followed the CEO’s introduction and without the stare that seems to say “don’t you f*%k this up.”
A fashion show followed featuring designs from Kooey, Mina & Katusha, Black Betty, Lisa Brown and Jason Grech. The show was fun and featured a vocalist, violinist, dancers and of course models in nice clothes.
Jessica Mauboy performed next. Running through several of her songs from her previous album and announcing her new album due out next week (I think). I personally think Jessica is awesome. She looks and sounds great. The funniest highlight of the performance though was when the dancers removed their shirts and all the girls in the audience (and some of the boys) watched the dancers who were futher back on the stage, rather than Jessica who was down the end of the catwalk. And included in the girls was Lillian Frank, she was dancing grinning from ear to ear. It was cute.
Crazy auctions followed next. We photographers took this as a time to have a little break. It went on for ages and apparently some folks decided to drunk bid and refused to pay up when the time came, because of this they had to re-auction three or four items.
The final performance of the night was a group called “Collective”, a Melbourne-based cover band who did a pretty good job getting the people on their feet and dancing. Of course this was helped by the free-flowing alcohol that had been served all night.
In conclusion my results weren’t super, but then as “student” photographers there were defined rules about where we could stand, especially during the fashion show. I think I need more practice shooting in the mixed-light environment that events provide. I also had one point during the night when my flash decided it wanted to always shoot at full power, and wouldn’t let me into the on-camera settings to adjust it. Youchy. In the end I had to clean the terminals and reattach the unit. Kind of weird it happened part-way through.
I’d do it again and will say as much in the note accompanying my disc. It was fun. I met a few more of the students from the school and got to see how the industry photographers shoot. Any thing that pushes me out of my comfort zone is an all-round great experience.