Observations Photographing LaidOffCamp Phoenix

Observations I had while photographing LaidOffCamp Phoenix in Gilbert, AZ on August 8, 2009. This is the first event I've photographed.

Posted by Curtis Miller on August 9, 2009

This past weekend I went to LaidOffCamp Phoenix in Gilbert, AZ and brought my new camera with me. I've had the camera, a Canon EOS Rebel XS, for about 2 weeks and, a couple of days before the event, I got a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I know next to nothing about photography and bought this camera so that I could learn. What better way than at an event with a lot of people and activity to photograph? Little did I know that I'd take 330 photos throughout the day. Here are some observations I had during that time.

LaidOffCamp Phoenix 2009

  • Event photographers must be like ninjas. Going in and out of sessions shouldn't distract the participants too much and you want to capture things unobtrusively.
  • People like to look at cameras and/or pose. However, I was trying to capture more candid shots. It was especially hard because I still don't know what I'm doing and it takes me a while to adjust the settings before taking a picture. I'd either put the camera down for a little bit or tell them I was just playing with the settings, not taking a real picture.
  • Dealing with different lighting is hard. Each setting was unique and trying to figure out, with my limited knowledge, what to adjust was both time consuming and frustrating. I ended with quite a few dark or blurry shots because I couldn't get it adjusted correctly. I also missed quite a few while I was trying to adjust...
  • Manual focus is also hard. Part of my tutelage involved placing everything on manual as I need to learn what all of those adjustments mean before trusting the camera to do some of them for me. I stuck with it all day... There were many shots where the focus was really close to being on, but was 3-4 inches too near or far (e.g., focused on someone's ear or on their hand that's resting on the table in front of them).
  • Photographing an event can be physically tiring. I spent much of the six hours I was there crouching, kneeling, leaning or standing. There was not much opportunity to take a break. I went to each of the sessions and, during lunch, grabbed a quick slice of pizza before everyone else so that I could take pictures during lunch/networking time. And I only had one camera and no additional equipment; think about the people lugging multiple cameras, tripods, lens, etc. around.
  • I'm self-conscious about taking photos. It seems like a weird thing to say, but that's how I felt during the day... It got better as the day went on, but it was especially bad during the first hour or so.

One of the constructive comments I received afterward was from local Phoenix fine arts photographer, Tyson Crosbie. He said it looked like I was afraid of getting close to my subjects. This may be a reflection of feeling self-conscious about the whole thing, but might also be the result of only having the 50mm lens.

Overall, it was a good experience and I think some of the photos actually turned out well. Of the 330 I took, I narrowed it down to 62 that were, somewhat, fit for viewing. So go check out the photos from LaidOffCamp Phoenix and let me know your thoughts and suggestions so I can improve!

Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer, nor do I aspire to be one at this time.

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