Saturday, August 18, 2012

Drinking From the Fire Hose: CtGR Goes Photojournalist

I try to not mix my actual day job with my photography – or at least my commentary on the latter. But occasionally, the two will overlap in such a way that makes this unavoidable, and so it is in this case. And so it came to pass that, some weeks back, the embassy that I work at was being visited by a Person of some Importance and that an embassy photographer would therefore be required. There was just one problem: the embassy did not have a photographer, official or otherwise.

Until recently, we had another employee who ran a side project as very successful portrait photographer and he would have been the ideal choice for this visit but - malheureusement - he had recently departed for another post. So, we had a problem. Or, at least we did until someone in Public Affairs realized, “Hey, Dave has a camera. Surely he can do the job?”, whereupon it fell to me to explain that: I’m a landscape photographer, not a photojournalist. If we want photos heavy on negative space, black and white, and HDR, all overlaid with a healthy dose of alienation, then sure, I’m your guy. These limitations were dutifully explained to the Ambassador who, I’m sure after not spending much time worrying about them, sent a verbose, three-word email back to Public Affairs and myself telling me that I got the job.

Thus began a great deal of preparation and not inconsiderable amounts of angst, in preparing for said visit. What I’d like to do over the coming weeks is to not only share the photos that documented this visit, but also go into my planning and preparation for the visit, and then look at the individual events themselves, how I worked them, and the photos the resulted. For many professionals, I’m sure my comments will tend towards the obvious, but hopefully they’ll prove more beneficial for an aspiring photojournalist or – perhaps more importantly – any serious amateurs or hobbyists who find themselves in a similar situation.

I’m sorry to say that the first two installments in this will be more text heavy than photo heavy, but it’s necessary to start that way to show how the entire event developed. Oh, and looking back, I can see that I haven’t mentioned who this visitor was.

Why, it was the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

You’ve probably never heard of her.

All right Sports Fans, strap in:

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Planning and Preparation
Part Three: The Health Clinic
Part Four: The Presidency
Part Five: The University
Part Six: The Hotel
Part Seven: Final Thoughts and Lessons Learned

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