I whine a lot about the technical challenges of photographing theater and dance.
Photographing the Ojai Storytelling Festival makes theater and dance seem easy. The technical challenges are similar to other stage performances – mixed lighting, moving subjects, limited shooting angles – but the conceptual challenges are much tougher, because most of the tellers work without props or onstage interaction.
Microphones are always a curse. When I’m feeling really, really motivated, I’ll spend hours in Photoshop removing microphones from images. Of course, I haven’t felt that motivated since about 2004.
This year, I decided to capture the tellers’ hands, those built-in props that we all use when telling stories. And since many of the tellers are also musicians, I concentrated on images with instruments.
Most of these were shot with a Nikon D300 and a 70-200 f2.8 lens. I pulled out the 17-55 a few times, but I’ve never been great about changing lenses in the field, under pressure. In the old days, I always bought basic, inexpensive camera bodies (Nikon FM) and always had at least two, usually three, with a telephoto on one, a wide-angle on the other, and a macro on the third. I can’t afford to do that with digital camera bodies. C’est la vie.
The 11th Ojai Storytelling Festival was also the last to be held in our community’s treasured Libbey Bowl, which will be torn down this summer. My wife sings with a group called Madrigali, and I’m thrilled that she got a chance to sing on the stage of the bowl at this year’s festival.