I recently had the pleasure of shooting another arts festival at the Esplanade Hotel in St. Kilda. While the last festival I shot went for several weeks and involved multiple shoots, this one - We’re All Going to Die - took place over three nights, and only involved me shooting the opening night.
The challenges I faced during the shoot were similar to the previous festival I shot, but with a few added pressures. Like the other festival, We’re All Going To Die was a series of mini shoots all wrapped into one. The night involved an opening Q&A with the festival’s creator, followed by three main performances, and a series of attractions in the atrium of the Espy with attendees could interact with between the main events.On previous nights I had multiple opportunities to shoot each of these events, whereas during this shoot I had 15-20 minutes per performance, with no opportunity for a do-over. Combined with a relatively comprehensive shot list for what was arguably the hardest shoot of the night, the pressure was definitely on.
The above shot features the opening of the festival, which was a Q&A with Stefan Hunt (pictured right). As with most events of this type, the main struggle was with moving around and getting in the position I need to be in to shoot. I’m currently essentially working with two prime lenses - a 56mm (85mm equivalent) and a 23mm (35mm equivalent) - which means I’m forced to move a lot closer to the subjects I'm shooting. I’m conscious that using prime lenses can only improve my skills as a photographer, but sometimes it is nice to have the option of hanging back with a 70-200 and shooting to my heart’s content.
Regardless, I overcame my hesitation to get in the way of patrons, and used the space at the front of the stage to shoot. It’s probably pretty obvious, but the main shot I wanted to get was a wide one of Stefan and the interviewer, with the “We’re All Going to Die” text clearly visible in the background. I think I achieved this. Also, while I included some colour versions of this shot in the final image set I delivered, I feel that the black and white vibe lends itself well to this type of event.
Next up was a life drawing class. This was easily the hardest shoot of the night, due in large part to the sensitive nature of the subject matter. I was doing my best to frame all nudity out of the shot, but with limited maneuverability in the room, it proved to be pretty difficult. I still got a few nice shots like this one of the model when everything was over, but it was definitely the weakest shoot.
Cover image : Espy Atrium | Fuji X-T2 + XF10-24mm | 1/100sec @ f4 | ISO 5000.