Today's assignment made my heart ache for my teaching years.
I photographed several back-to-school scenes for the Statesman's "Raising Austin" blog. The point of the shoot was to feature outfits and accessories available for different age groups. At first, I was a bit nervous. There were three adults trying to manage the situation (myself included), but it came a time when I had to speak up and establish that as the photographer, I needed to arrange and create the scenes. Things went much more smoothly after that, and the other women helped manage the chaos of ten children with finesse and grace.
I had carried my entire light kit to the shoot, but didn't end up using it -- it felt too hectic to attempt while also trying to direct very active children into position. I found my stride in directing, and immediately felt how I did as a yearbook teacher when I art-directed my student photographers during photo shoots. Photographing editorial assignments in general really inspire me. Plus, I just really love the semi-shoddy, grungy aesthetics of Texas public schools: uninviting beige walls, apathetic florescent lights, bland tile flooring. It's fantastic.
When I came back, one of my favorite mentors offered to look over the photos and give me her thoughts. She immediately noted that I should have lit this shoot. I immediately confessed that I had entirely intended to but didn't feel confident in using the light kit, and she was incredibly generous in giving me a light lesson after I edited these photos.
Working with kids feeds my soul like nothing else. There was a moment when one of the moms was putting her daughter's hair half-up, and I noticed what a tender moment that must be for a parent. I'm excited to be a parent some day, but for now, working with kids is as close to that kind of joy that I can get.
Use light! I learned from Amanda how to angle it, where to position it, and how to read it in a room. I'm hoping to practice these skills on Katie tomorrow during our Austin adventure day!
I had a lot of fun getting one pair of kids to roar like dinosaurs to each other. Another child in a different pair was not having this photo shoot, so I gave him some minor choices to make that made him feel like he had more agency in the situation. I let him choose which chair to pick, which activity to do, and in the end, he ended up sitting and doing exactly what I had planned for him to do -- and he even stuck out his tongue in concentration for the photo without me having had to direct him! Nothing quite like leaning on old classroom management skills to save the day. And my last favorite memory was the reporter coming into the room where I was packing up at the end of it and shouting, "You were AWESOME!" Hey, I'm a sucker for validation, what can I say?