Around the time I wrote about permutations, I told my wife there was NO WAY I would photograph her sixteen member singing group. We did the session last Sunday.
With a group this size, I gave up worrying about the permutations issues: I simply planned to shoot a lot of frames and hope for the best. After all, even in the rare circumstance when everyone’s eyes were open and everyone looked great, it was simply unthinkable that any single image would satisfy all sixteen subjects.
Among other lessons from this experience: I am still merely a technician who aspires to become a photographer. I did not bring ideas and vision to the endeavor, yet I was the only person looking through the viewfinder. Members of the group designed the composition from within the subject area, because I wasn’t doing MY job. Fearing for the subjects’ comfort and impatience, I rushed to keep shooting when I should have slowed down, studied test shots, and changed more than the flash settings. Back at the computer, after it was too late to do much about it, I saw troublesome composition issues, lighting problems, distracting posing or costume details, etc. Yes, I managed the contrast ratios for some pleasing overall exposures, and the focus is sharp (although there’s too much depth of field). The people and their colorful costumes are inherently interesting, but the photos are not. I didn’t bring any unique, compelling style to the party. That’s the next frontier.
Insufficient presence of mind continues to dog my attempts to become a reliable photographer. The stakes of such lapses increase with the size of the group. Not only are there more details to track; organizational logistics make a re-shoot all but impossible.