Behind the scenes video + DocPoint documentary film festival
For a long time I’ve wanted to do something like this!
Every now and then (quite often, actually) there comes different kinds of co-operation requests and work offers to us studying photography in Lahti. Even though many of them are pretty casual or simply rude (e.g. “I’ve got this thing. Come photograph it for free!”) there are actually a few gems to pick up too. Luckily I was able to recognize and grab to one of those nice opportunities.
Depending on whether you determine or not luck as working your ass off, of course.
DocPoint is a Finnish documentary film festival, which not only showcases domestic films but features many international names, arranges seminars and interviews with the creative ones and of course throws out a party or two (read: many parties) for the people making the movies and visiting the festivals from all over the world. DocPoint is held annually in Helsinki and this time it was its 10th time.
I was invited with four other photographers to document those happenings and the overall atmosphere behind the scenes. The other great photographers were
And the whole project was organized by Henni Uutela. Big thanks to her go for helping out in those many hectic moments during the festival week. Visit her website at www.heidiuutela.com.
So here’s the big thing. People organizing these kinds of assignments, hear me out. The very best thing about this project was in my opinion the same thing which made for example FSA’s photography program so great in the 1930′s. It was the CREATIVE FREEDOM.
I’ve noticed I tend to specialize on people portraiture nowadays which made me wish if I had the opportunity to do something associated with it during this event too. On top of that even though the opening party has been annual like the festivals themselves I heard no-one had pulled off a portraiture series of the guests visiting there before. So even though it was a bit risky, Henni encouraged me to give it a try after I had suggested her the idea and that’s where from the fun started.
Michael Palmieri and Leena Närekangas in the opening party
The gear I used for the photo shoot at the opening party held in Virgin Oil was the following:
The other lenses I had with me but didn’t need for the portraiture shoot were: (I used them during the other assignments)
Yup, they’re pretty bling-bling…
The day before the party I tested every single piece of gear I was taking with me
In the photo below you may see the only little fragment of free space I found in front of that beautiful red wall which was surrounding us in the club. Already before the evening even started it was quite obvious that there was about to develop traffic of people so I could have hidden to a corner far away too. I think it would have been not necessary though or otherwise I wouldn’t have got near as much people asking for me to take their photo.
In the time lapse video you saw me moving the set to another location. That was our studio moving down to the first floor of the club when the hassle had calmed down there a little and it was getting even too boring for me on the second floor.
By the way, note the second flash head taped to the cealing…
Here's the takeaway-studio on location. Note the 5 square meters I had space to work in
The timelapse was shot using my trusty old Canon’s EOS 350D. It had Tokina’s 12-24mm f/4 lens attached to itself (thanks for borrowing the lens, Pyry!) and a battery grip to keep it shooting constantly for over 4 hours. It was taking photos every 4 seconds with the help of a Giga T Pro from Hähnel.
In the end the camera had taken 2 984 photos which is quite impressive in my opinion. The batteries were not even near running out and there was still room in the 4 GB memory card it was saving the pictures to. The photos were small sized JPEGs to make sure the space didn’t run out.
I had set the 350D to take photos at 1/6th of a second to achieve some motion blur on moving subjects but now when I think about it, the shutter speed could have been even longer. That’s because I would’ve got more of those flashes recorded.
The cool thing about setting the camera to take photos automatically from an obvious location was some of the reactions it got from the people passing by. Some of them became even quite creative (Video @ 1:23)!
The camera recording the time lapse is seen in the upper right corner
The camera was hanging from a curtain pole right next to the bar
Shooting tethered on a laptop was, again, awesome. Taking note on that the models were film directors, producers, journalists and staff members – in other words, the ones who are not the most used to posing in front of a camera – the MacBook showing instantly what I shot often was the priceless icebreaker between me and the person. People always react when they see themselves, you know. So why not use that as a method to spark some life and personality in them when they’re not in their comfort zone? Especially when you’ve got only from 30 seconds to 5 minutes time to interact with them.
This assignment is another good example of tethered shooting used this way. There the computer was in front of the models so that I didn’t even see the screen but I sure did see their reaction after every photo. :)
That's Wilhelm and me. Wilhelm joined the party at the end of the night. Katri Tenhola took the photo of us
So that’s it, folks!
All of the photos we took during the week of DocPoint are seen gallery by gallery at docpointhelsinki.blogspot.com.
Here are links to my galleries: (ordered by time taken)