It was a blessing……..
to be asked to be one of the volunteer photographers at the Vancouver DOXA film festival. I purchased a Nikon d5600 with a 70-300 mm zoom lens. Whew! what a learning curve! a new camera!
I was asked to not use flash and needed to practice low light people shots. I went to the lobby of the Vancouver aquarium and Van Dusen Gardens. I hung around the Jim Diva Plaza, always monitoring the ISO, shutter speeds and apertures. It is really tricky to focus on the people in so many low light conditions. Plus people do weird things with their mouths, glasses and body movements… tricky doing events, it is.
Truly there were amazingly beautiful and informing films about world of diverse issues. I was struck at the sincerity, honesty and creativity of the film producers who had question and answer sessions afterwards. I tried to capture the passion, pride and excitement of people talking about their enlightening films.
The DOXA Staff and volunteers….
I could not have felt confident and assertive about going through the crowds, green rooms,lobbies and backstage without the tremendous support of the DOXA staff, who were gracious and helpful with their feedback. They “posed” for pictures and showed a great flexibility in helping me stage gatherings. The volunteers were so smooth in their helping of the patrons and always encouraged me to move, take their pics and chat when things were slow.
Fellow photographers kindly shared tips and helped me problem solve. We photographers are all “experts” on our stuff and I learnt a ton by watching the pros shoot and learning how to be brave and in people’s faces. I was very shy at the beginning. eventually, I felt just like a pro, like the others.
What I learnt…. and how I was changed by this experience
I remember walking down Granville Street on May 4, opening night, of ” The Road Forward”, dragging my camera equipment in my carry-on suitcase. I was shaking with fear and excitement, hoping I wouldn’t forget all that I had learnt in my 51 years of taking pictures. When I got to the Vogue Theater, I donned my volunteer lanyard, took out the camera and walked around like I knew what I was doing.. Ha ha!
Then I really got going… talking to the Vogue theater lighting techies, the staff, and checking out the lighting and possible backgrounds and locations. After the first few failures, I was so completely absorbed in the venue that I sidled up to the people and just shot..each shot done with studied composition, measured exposures, and capturing the moods and stories unfolding.
I realized that I think like an old film photographer. For example , when I was in the green room at the Vogue, deep in the basement, the cast and production team were having a intimate pre-screening feast and social gathering. Rather than feel like an observer/documentarian, I asked people for a shot, smiled and took ONE only One of each grouping.Then I felt I had captured their moments and left them to gather some more. I used 12 out of the 15 photos I had taken.These moments are forever burnt in my heart by the intimacy and congeniality of the Indigenous cast and crew. And the ease with which I connected my visualizations with the photos taken.
And so I rolled into about 8 film screenings, ever sharpening my assessment skills of where to stand, who to shoot, and how to make the most of those terribly lit venues like Cinematheque and Van City Theater..
Being a photographer really engaged me more fully with the content of the films as I could see the messages come though the DOXA staff intros and discussions with film production peeps after the films.
So the thrill of editing and submitting some great, some so-so, and some edgy photos was the highlight of my year. The connectivity of everything though my eyes was a joy and transforming experience.
I know my photos have gone all over the worked with the film production people; and this experience gave my a gift of seeing, being and mastering digital shooting!