The Boat Party

Jul 2nd, 2013

My job this last weekend was a birthday party. On a boat. On the Thames.

I started in my usual fashion, by arriving an hour and a half early, which at least gave me time to check my kit and develop a mild paranoia that I was going to miss the boat because, even after checking, double checking and rechecking the event details I was convinced I was going to step onto a boat either full of overheated “youngsters” or over-relaxed (though very nice) OAPs. Then I spotted my client and his guests I felt reassured that the evening was likely to be at least moderately successful.  And though I was offered some bubbly from the outset, I felt it would be sensible to stick to drinking water (for the most part) whilst on the water and working.

The evening light was initially glorious – nice and warm, not too direct, making it very easy to get some nice candid portraits, which are pretty much my speciality. As the evening wore on, the light became more challenging as the colour temperature dropped (which needed some serious work in Lightroom post production to keep the shots fairly consistent) until it was time to break out the flash.

Now I’m only just getting comfortable with flash, having only really started using flash in a professional setting in the last year or so. Plus, I think having a massive flash with an even bigger diffuser on the top is really not conducive for candid portrait shoots, so it gets to a bit of a higher level. I had to pick and choose my shots a little more, whilst trying not to succumb to the huge temptation to gawk with envy at the interiors of the extraordinarily expensive houses that line the sides of the particular stretch of the Thames we were travelling down.

And that’s when the dancing started.

None of your relaxed, refined swaying, this was full on proper dancing, only constrained (for the most part) by the low ceiling. A low, dark ceiling which really did nothing for the lighting, flash or otherwise. And dancing. Seriously, dancing at a party is a pretty hard thing to nail for a photographer unless you want to have your photos look like you’re doing something in mid 80s Eastern Europe for a National Geographic spread. But I think I did OK.

And I managed to get home before 2AM as well. All in all quite the successful evening. Although I’ll make sure I stop down my wide a little more next time so I don’t have to worry so much about focus. As for the grain at ISO 6000, well, it reminds me of my teenage shooting with HP5. And I’m sure they played “Teenage Kicks” at some point in the evening.

Co-incidentally I’ve just realised I’m now living in the same postcode as my old favourite film. Is that weird?