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Documenting an event with a photojournalistic flair- Give yourself the backstage pass

Documenting an event with a photojournalistic flair- Give yourself the backstage pass.

On May 3, 2015 I will be teaching a workshop on photojournalism techniques. While I am still in the planning stages of the agenda (I think I have it perfect, then add another killer tip!). So today, as I was fine tuning one of the slides, an analogy came to me. It seemed like a good subject for a blog post as well, so here goes…

Give yourself the backstage pass- The photograph attached to this blog was taken at the annual international parachute competition called Leapfest. It is sponsored by the RI Army National Guard. It is a great event where you can photograph hundreds of paratroopers falling from the sky in West Kingston, RI. Competitors come from all over the world in an attempt to be the fastest soldier to leap from a Chinook helicopter to a small red X on the field of an old turf farm.

I have attended for a few years now and have taken literally thousands of photographs of these jumpers. After a while, the photos look all the same. But the real meat and potatoes of my collection of photos from this event comes from the location just about a mile away from the drop zone. Here is where the guys and gals gather in preparation for their jump.

Being there is sort of like having a back stage pass in hand. We have all sat waiting patiently at a concert waiting for our favorite performer to come on stage and wondered what would I see if I could get my hands on a back stage pass.

So here is my tip for spicing up your photographs next time you are camera in hand at an event. Let’s say you are taking photos of your nephew’s birthday party. You take the typical picture of the kid blowing out his candles. We all know what that looks like. It’s nothing exciting or different but still an important piece to photograph because it tells the story that you trying to photographically document.

Ask yourself, “Where would a backstage pass take me”. The answer may be to the kitchen where the cake was baked. Imagine how much more interesting your series of photographs will be when you arrange them in a scrapbook or online starting with grandma baking the cake in her own kitchen. Followed by your nieces frosting it, then the photograph of your nephew blowing out the candles at the party.

This my friend, is documentary photography. Any one can do it and by adding these photojournalism techniques you’ll evolve your photographs from snapshots into “wow” shots.

So next time, you are at a family gathering and you know they are going to ask you to snap a few shots, give yourself the backstage pass and let the moment take you and your camera to some place special.

For more tips on how to use photojournalism techniques in every day photographs, sign up for my workshop Be ready for the Moment on May 3, 2015.

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