By Douglas Gritz
Back in September I wrote about an event I photographed for the getting together of Denver’s various arts organizations. Last year Denver was awarded a grant by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Arts Innovation and Management program. Their first meeting was in September. They were back this month at a new venue, DCPA (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), and asked me to return to photograph this event.
Their previous event was held at the Space Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District, which was a unique venue, if not a little challenging because of the lighting conditions. There were a lot of strong spotlights of tungsten light blasting from the ceiling mixed with a lot of ambient daylight. This made finding a pleasing white balance a challenge and created situations where people under spotlights would look like they were on fire (or the people around them in a cave, depending on which I chose to exposure for). Still, as an event photographer I always appreciate a unique venue. Too often I find myself in bland, dark, and featureless hotel conference rooms.
Well this time I was in for a real treat because the DCPA was a unique venue with outstanding lighting and visual elements. Take the ceiling, I mean, whoa! That’s the coolest ceiling I’ve ever seen and it made for a dynamite wide shot. Photographing at this venue was a nice change of pace, where I felt like I got to make art out of what I was given to work with, rather than working to try and solve problems and shoot around what I was given to work with.
There were two spotlights to the right of the speaker. I wanted to try and get a flare from one worked into an image. So I got really close to the stage and down low. Typically, speakers shots are photographed straight on or at no more than a 45 degree angle. I always make sure to get those shots and once I do, I go try to get something more creative. The little twinkle lights in the ceiling really help take this image to the next level. Whoever designed that ceiling, I owe you one.
All the events I photograph the client wants “networking” shots, which are basically people hanging out and chatting. A fair but of hugging happens at these events and it’s one of the toughest actions to photograph because by the time you see it, it’s over. When I do get one, often the expressions are odd. Here, I got lucky — I anticipated this just before it happened and the expression is perfect.