Sunday, October 05, 2008


A Photographic Faux-pas

A fundraising event was being held last week for our charity. A gala, black-tie, £125-a-ticket event. At some point two days before said event, someone in the office wondered aloud "Should we get some pictures of this event?" to which someone else said, half-jokingly, "David could do them"

Thursday evening, and I'm lugging a camera, five lenses, a flashgun and three sets of flashgun batteries up Embankment to the pier where the boat on which this fancy event will set off from. I must admit, I was both terrified and excited. I'm still finding my feet with my camera having made the jump to digital, and I'm normally more of a still-life and architecture specialist than event photographer. Not that anyone on the boat would know this. They'd just see a guy in a smart black shirt slung about with professional-looking camera gear.

My first mistake was to apply a little lipsalve to combat the biting Thames wind. At some point since I last needed to use it, my lipsalve had metamorphosed from greasy tea tree-based saviour of cracked lips to something resembling Pritt Stick, and my lips got stuck together. Wiping it off only served to gove me sticky fingers and sticky lips, moments before I was expecting to shake hands with the event manager.

Fortunately I didn't need to worry about sticky hands when handshaking, as I didn't get a particularly friendly reception. I wasn't expected, and was left on the pier while a printout of the email from my manager telling me who to ask for was passed around on board and they decided whether I would be allowed to set foot on the vessel.

Finally granted permission to step on board, I got to work. Some people were very enthusiastic to have their pictures taken, others grudgingly agreed to it, and some point-blank refused. The key thing was speed - while I was taking pictures, I was interrupting valuable chatting and champagne-quaffing time. I just decided to take at least four pictures of every group, the odds being that there would be at least one where everyone wasn't noticeably grimacing, looking the other way or had their eyes closed. It seemed to work, and I'd definitely do it again.

Some people were keen to see their pictures, and on the 40D's glorious 3" screen, I was happy to oblige. Now, to scroll through images, one spins the big dial on the rear of the camera to quickly move through dozens of images. when you reach the last file on the memory card and try to go forward, you are taken to the first file on the card. And thus it was that I learnt the importance of clearing memory cards between photographic 'jobs'.

You see, the week before, I'd spotted some bananas in the family fruit basket and had spotted their photographic potential. Said images had been transferred to my PC, but were also still in my camera. So whilst showing the smartly-dressed guests the 3 or 4 images I'd just taken, suddenly an image of a downward-pointing curved yellow banana appeared on the screen. The main reaction was surprise on the guests' part, and a red face on my part. "I'm not going to ask what that's about" said one glamorously-dressed lady

It wouldn't have been so bad, but I managed to do it more than nce before having the presence of mind to delete every fruit-based image from my camera before I got myself thrown overboard.

Given the chance to do it again though, I definitley would. But only after formatting my memory cards. Twice.

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