Monday, December 6, 2010

Help Portrait 2010 Update

Photo credit to Dustin

UPDATE: Just wanted to throw in a special thanks to Costco photo lab for coming through with a deal on prints to help us out!

Well Saskatoon's first year participating in the Help-Portrait event is over and it was a huge success. We had 7 photographers and 10 other volunteers on site that day including a makeup artist! In total we had 71 groups sign up ranging from individual people to large families, all total we had 105 people get their portraits taken. Not bad for a handful of photographers, especially considering that this was the first time some of the photographers had worked with studio lighting.

As I'm writing this we're still waiting on some people to finish the post processing work on their shots, from what I've seen of the finished files they all look great! On the 11th we're hoping to have all of the photos ready and are going to be down at the Salvation Army handing them out, I can't wait to see everyone's reactions.

Our shoot started at 10:30am Dec 4th and went until 4pm. We ran two setups, one using my Impact 5x7' collapsible background that could accommodate 1-2 people and another larger setup using a fabric backdrop for individuals or big groups. We split up my two studio strobes, one for each setup, then used speedlights on each for secondary lighting. For triggering we used my Yong Nuo PT-04 Transmitter/Receiver sets on one side and PW's provided by another volunteer for the other side (thanks Jay!). All in all we didn't have any real issues, maybe a few minor things here and there but nothing big.

Behind the scenes shots from the day's event can be seen here at the Saskatoon group's page on Flickr and BTS shots from worldwide participants here.

In an effort to document some ideas while they're still fresh here are some things to consider for next year.

Things that worked really well:
  • Each person/group coming in to have their portraits taken were given a number on a small piece of paper, for their first photo they held this up so we could match pictures to the appropriate people.
  • Props, only one of our volunteers was on the ball in this department and she brought a huge teddy bear along with other props. These really helped and were a great idea, thanks Kim!
  • Dropbox. This is a great way for groups of people to collaborate and share files. So far everything is going good, just hope we don't run out of space ;)
  • The flyers that were handed out at the Salvation Army during the two weeks before the event really seemed to help get the word out and to the right people. Announcing stuff on the radio/TV ahead of time is likely to result in the wrong people taking advantage of the event whereas these flyers hit our target market perfectly.

Things that could be improved upon:
  • Backdrops, since it was our first year and we didn't know what to expect we thought one setup for small groups and one for large groups would work. We ended up with a lot of larger groups so this made it uneven, next year we'll just setup two large backdrops. Also I think that 2 studio strobes per side would probably work better especially if we're having larger groups (sorry Krystian you were right lol).
  • ID number slips, while they did work out really well one thing I'd suggest for next year is having them underlined. We had one incident where the person held a 9 upside down so it appeared to be a 6. The issue was quickly sorted out since we had names to match the numbers up with, since one was male and one was female it was easy to figure out.
  • Bring a whiteboard to keep track of how many sittings each photographer has shot. All in all it worked out fairly evenly for us, I think everyone got to shoot enough. Still it would have been easier if we had a whiteboard so that nobody got left out. On the other hand everyone is different and some people might only want to shoot a certain amount, it depends on each person's comfort level.
  • Bring a hotshoe adapter for Sony/Minolta cameras or figure out before hand if one is going to be needed. One of the photographers at our event was shooting a Sony and was stuck bouncing her speedlight off the roof instead of being able to take advantage of the lighting setup.
  • Fund-raise and seek out sponsors earlier. This was our first year and the majority of members didn't join until there was a month or less left before the event so we did pretty good despite that. Now that we have a base of support next year we'll be on the ball earlier.
  • Krystian (our lead organizer) suggested shooting in pairs and having another photographer aid in reviewing the shots as they were taken. This would help avoid surprises later during post ie Oh crap I shot a group at f2 and only the people in front are in focus ;)

All in all it went very well and I can't wait to see everyone's reactions when we give them their photos this Saturday. Thanks to everyone that volunteered and a big thanks to Krystian and his wife Aleksandra for starting this Saskatoon group rolling.

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