We’ve decided to hire a professional photographer to give us some good quality images of our community using our libraries (instead of buying stock images). I imagined it would be a doddle; hire a photographer, line a bunch of people to come in, allow 10 minutes per person, tada, photos. Mostly it was easy, I’d just kind of forgotten about the people element of things.
1. Finding a photographer. We sent out three requests, two came back. Of the two one was better than the other. (easy).
2. Line a bunch of people to come in. I contacted a key representative at each of the branches doing this. They ‘enthused’ the staff to contact people they thought would be good in their photos from a wide range of backgrounds, nationalities and age groups. This didn’t work too bad. (moderately easy).
3. Allow 10 minutes per person. Ha! You look at all those glamour shots in the glossy magazines and think “well, they probably took 50 photos in quick succession, picked the best one and then photoshopped the crap out of it”. I can tell you not at all.
a) Lighting – it changes. It’s dark. It’s light. It needs a flash. A lesser flash. No too little. A bigger flash. Flashity flash flash flash. It’s actually quite impressive, the camera’s flash is connected wirelessly to every other flash in the building (two ones with umbrellas and a hand-held extra flash) and so when you click ‘take photo’…FLASH!
b) Backgrounds – blurry, not blurry, wide lens, angled badly, move the furniture, lift the couch, stand on phone books, sit on phone books, how about we use the encyclopaedias to bolster up the wheely chair. But, having looked at the proofs, it’s amazing what you can do with two phone books and a bit of focus.
c) People – they don’t do what they’re told (I’m one of them by the way, it turns out that move right means move right, not turn to the left).
d) Parents – ‘why isn’t my child featured more?’ ‘she smiles all the time, I don’t know why she’s crying now’ ‘she’s so cute when she’s throwing the $10,000 camera around isn’t she?’.
4. Photos. These came out brilliantly. Some photos looked a bit boring to me (yup, it’s a building, woo) but others came out amazingly good. There is one of a guy sitting on a couch reading a book. When the photo was being taken I though ‘ho hum, very ordinary’ but, when I saw the low quality proof I was sent, it’s amazing. Also, the one of a guy with dreadlocks dropping books onto the head of an Italian man was very funny.
When our new website is launched I’m going to feature these photos all over the place. I’ll post here to let everyone know. It’s been an experience, I can tell you that.
Oh, and for anyone deciding to do this in the future. If your library has a steady stream of visitors coming in, I’d suggest not trying to do a time sheet beforehand unless you desperately want certain faces in the photos. Because of the time taken with each person (and the fact that people coming into the library are interesting and are very photogenic doing what they normally do), you can cause much angst to people who are on the time sheet and are either unphotogenic, unhelpful or impatient.