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Old 17-11-2006, 14:56   #1 (permalink)
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Lightbulb Shooting the red carpet and more

Gary Bagshawe has informed forum readers what a working day can be like for a professional freelance photographer - I now hope to shed some light on what it's like to shoot for an agency such as Getty, Rex, or my own - Camera Press.

On Sunday 12th November, the City Halls in Glasgow played host to the BAFTA Scotland Awards 2006, and I was there to cover the whole shindig from arrivals to 'chucking out time.' Being a Sunday, there was no strict deadline from the agency since the image desk wouldn't be manned again until 8:00 am on the Monday morning. Based on this, I elected not to take my laptop and 3G phone, since there was no need to wire images from the venue.

All the media had been briefed that arrivals were expected to start from 5:15pm, so a smart photographer would do their level best to get to the venue well ahead of that time. I was there for about 4:45pm and there were already two other 'togs there - a prominent freelancer and a shooter from the Daily Record.

I took up a space to their right which was relatively close to the center of the barrier, affording a decent view down the length of the red carpet - the carpet itself running in a long L shape with the short turn leading into the venue's entrance.

Come 5:10 and there were another six photographers in attendance, making nine of us in total... a relatively small number but the barrier in place was tiny, making it a squeeze for us all. The rule of thumb here is that, once you've picked your spot, you stick to it - whether you have a good view or not.

Just before 5:15 the rain decided to set in and there was no sign of arrivals. We busied ourselves with test shots, deciding on ISO, f/stop and flash settings that would work best. There were enough crew milling around the red carpet to get some accurate test shots and, since it was already dark and all the lighting was fixed in place, there was no need to go fiddling with settings after this point.

Just after 5:30, the first arrivals started on the red carpet; this is the point where quick wits and memory come into play, since you're constantly scanning faces and trying to put names to them in order to get their attention for a shot. You'll normally be given a list in advance of people whom are expected to attend but that can vary wildly from reality. At and event such as the BAFTA's, so many of the big names are folks whom are usually behind the scenes instead of on screen, so it can be quite tricky to get it right. The rule of thumb here is often "shoot first, check if they're famous later!"

By 7:00pm, the last of the arrivals have gone in the door. Seven of the photographers whom were shooting the arrivals have other jobs to go to so they make their exit, leaving me and the two official photographers (one for the Page Ranking company, one for the event sponsor) to go inside and wait for the awards to begin.

This year there was no press access to the auditorium - photo and interview opportunities with award winners would happen shortly after each person received their award in a designated section of the halls. The awards were set to run from just after 7:00 pm to around 9:00pm - so that made for a lot of thumb-twiddling time between photographing each winner.

Just after 9:20pm, the main hall started to empty and all the guests went downstairs to mingle before being called in to dinner. At this point I made my way onto the stairwell and proceeded to try to pick faces from the crowd and shoot them candidly without flash, using a high ISO and an f/1.4 lens. I got a few decent candids and then everyone started heading to dinner just before 10:00pm.

For the period from 10:00pm - 11:00pm, I was advised by the Page Ranking firm in charge that I'd do well to nip outside and grab something to eat. Rain still pouring down, I headed out in search of a chippie and, having found one, made my way as quickly back to the venue as I could - deciding it would be better to eat inside in the warmth than out in the rain.

Just after 11pm, folks started leaving dinner and were milling around the hallway, waiting for the after-party to begin. On account of the Scottish smoking ban, anyone wanting to light up had to leave the building - which meant nearly everybody. From that point until closing time at 3:00am, I done my level best to get shots of the bigger stars on their own, taking time to talk to them, position them and even show them the results on my camera's LCD. Having met and shot several of them before, it was a relief sometimes just to hold a conversation with them rather than simply photographing them all the time

With 3:00am well past, all of the big names had left and I managed to grab a passing taxi. I got across the door of my house at just before 4:00am and set straight about the tast of getting all 449 shots off my cameras.

To account for changing WB and exposure issues, I shoot RAW all the time, so the first step was getting my shots into Adobe Bridge and doing very rapid corrections to each file. The next stage was ranking the images (choosing which ones to transmit to Camera Press) and then adding the appropriate IPTC and keyword data to the images.

Camera Press needs images to be sent as 8 megapixel JPG images, around quality level 8 or so, making each file around 1MB in size. I use the Image Processor function in Photoshop to automate this process and, once I'd narrowed down the pick to just under 90 shots, I set it to run. Whilst the PC was busy with that, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and a drink. The time at this point was about 5:00am or so.

Once the batching had finished, I quckly checked the JPG's before readying them for FTP transfer to Camera Press' servers. My broadband access has an upload speed of 384k/sec so sending 90MB of images can take in excess of 40 minutes, depending on how much traffic there is on the broadband network. At that time of day (around 5:40am) it wasn't too much of an issue, but I like to babysit transfers in case of timeouts or other glitches.

So - everything had wrapped up just after 6:00am, making for just over 13 hours straight on the trot. If you'd like to see the shots taken on the night, head on over to BAFTA Scotland Awards 2006 and you'll be able to look at every single picture that I took on the night - the good, the bad and the ugly!

Last edited by VikingPhotography; 17-11-2006 at 15:19.
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Old 17-11-2006, 15:09   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Shooting the red carpet and more

Is it just me or does the link not work? I keep getting a 404 error. Can visit the site ok but can't find the bafta stuff.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 17-11-2006, 15:19   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Shooting the red carpet and more

Whoops - link is now fixed... should have been

BAFTA Scotland Awards 2006
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Old 17-11-2006, 16:25   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Shooting the red carpet and more

A great narrative of your day. I enjoyed reading that and thanks for linking to your shots
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Old 17-11-2006, 16:55   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Shooting the red carpet and more

A very interesting read, it makes me laugh when all my mates tell me to get a proper job, if only they knew what we have to go through, I stood outside a hotel today for 2 hours in the p#####g down rain and freezing cold wind waiting for Christina Aguilera to show up which she didn't.
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