I had the pleasure of photographing a food drive event mid-March of 2014 for a local organization. The goal was to photograph the post-event: pictures of the food, the people involved in the event, loading the food and unloading at the final destination; as well as capturing action photos of the group assisting the local church organized food pantry with the newly donated food items they received.
It was definitely an education in fundraising and how local food pantries, organized by local churches work. If you or someone you know needs temporary assistance with food for family or pets, please do not forget to look into your local church organized food pantry. They are definitely community orientated and there for you in your time of need.
The “post-fundraising” event is what happens to the products you have donated. Capturing the images in succession to tell a story and at the same time needing to stay out of the way of the workers is your goal alongside the goals of your client. The less obvious you make yourself, the more appreciated you are by those that need to move around and work; and the more willing they are to oblige your needs as well. Staying out of the way is key but knowing when to move in for the shot is just as important. As much as you might want to join in and help as a way of “paying it forward,” remember that you are being paid to do a job and paying it forward can come on another day.
On the Kathy Nairn Photography Facebook page, I have posted a number of shots and comments throughout the Timeline regarding “shooting from the ankle.” It’s a matter of NOT getting down and dirty but knowing your camera well enough to take a good guess at how to aim and shoot from ankle high. Any lens works so no need to run out and buy something special. You can even use your cell phone camera if you have the ability to release your shutter easily. Whatever camera type you decide to use, it comes with some practice. So don’t be discouraged by failed attempts to “get it right.” You’ll know by looking at the image when it looks and feels right. Then do it again.
When you need to tell a story with people and product, you might want to shoot a few images at table height. So don’t be afraid to bend over, shoot straight on or upward a bit and angled. The focused subject can be people or product. You can also angle the shot a bit to capture a bit of the background if it’s worthy of inclusion. Keep in mind that your background might be out of focus if it isn’t your subject. It’s just nice to allow a bit of background into the image to give your subject more attention instead of being smack in your face. Here’s an example of a food subject:
Here, a local and well known pastry/bread shop donates their day old products to their local food pantry. The volunteer workers at the church re-bag it for the day’s distribution to families in need. So here you have the pastries, the volunteer worker and a bit of the ‘pantry’ shelves in the background. The food is the subject but it’s not smack in your face by filling up the frame. It wouldn’t tell much of a story if the photograph had only the food as subject. Remember where you are, what your goals are and how to capture the story.
The entire time the work was in progress, my mind was processing how to capture sequence for story and emotion. A picture can be worth a thousand words. Change your view of the subject if you’re unhappy with what you see directly in front of you. Bend down, angle upward, get closer or step back a little bit at a time. Because you won’t always have the time to frame and shoot or set up the story, you are thinking ahead, being quick and moving in for the shot once you have the idea visualized in your head.
If you would like details on camera settings for the best shots, there are plenty of books at Amazon and I enjoyed this one in particular Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera, 3rd Edition. Very easy reading and the author makes it very easy to understand. Definitely worth the purchase.
Here is another example of product and people telling a story. Volunteers working to inventory the donated food items before storing them. Also, this is probably one of a few times that it is okay to chop off the heads! 😉 Because you have a solid subject, action and people, the story pretty much works without having to see faces. A black and white version might even offer more of a journalistic ambiance than the color version.
Never forget to assemble folks for a group shot to give your story a big smile with a positive outlook…..