What is the Assignment?

Jude Narita shares a story of "Little Boy's" visit to Japan.

I always feel a little bit guilty after the Ojai Storytelling Festival, because I photograph the performers, but I do not photograph the festival.

The band Sgt. Pepper played at Friday night's "Musical Picnic." Most of my shots look pretty much like this - one or two people on stage with a microphone.

You see, even though I am the “official” photographer of the event, it’s a very informal situation.  I’ve been attending the festivals since the first one, and I happen to carry my camera. Festival organizer Brian Bemel is a friend and I am happy to give him photos for festival promotion. But two factors limit the scope of my photography: 1) I am there to hear the stories, so the performers get my full attention. 2) I’m pretty shy about photographing strangers. Every now and then I snap a shot of audience participation, or one of the art or commerce booths on the lawn area, but, as I said above, I don’t really photograph the festival.

Dolling up during the musical picnic. This is precisely the sort of image I would not take, except for the fact that I know the people. I'm not at all comfortable photographing strangers.

Next year, I'll look for more offstage images, like this moment between Billy Jonas and Donald Davis. In other words, I'll try a little harder to tell the broader story of the storytelling festival.

Ansel Adams said there’s nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy idea. I love the Ojai Storytelling Festival, but my self-assigned responsibilities are fuzzy. Perhaps next year I’ll redefine the assignment and try to capture the overall festival – I think that would be far more useful to Brian and more challenging for me.

Don't get me wrong; I'm quite happy with my performance pictures. But there's a difference between a concert and a festival, and I look forward to showing more of the festival next year.

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Filed under Dance and Theater, Motivation

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