So some of you may be wondering why I totally went OTG last week, with the exception of a bunch of Facebook posts with "#recspokane" plastered all over the place. What the heck is REC Spokane anyways?
For any of you locals, the REC (Riverside Event Center) is what used to be the Masonic Temple. You know, that huge, older looking building with all of the tall Roman-esqe pillars in downtown Spokane? Yeah; the Photo Arts Club got the opportunity to spend an entire week there doing photo shoots. The week was appropriately titled "The Shootout". This consisted of taking the entire cage (the cage is the place where all the equipment is stored at school) and all of the studio lights, stands, and modifiers to a location for a whole week and do nothing but photo shoots all day, 5 days in a row. Sounds a little ambitious, right?
We definitely realized how much ambition it was going to take when we really got into planning it.
It started with nailing down a location. The REC was our first choice, and it took a couple months to make good contacts with them and get planning. Our budget allowed us to rent the space for a week, so we confirmed that, and then started to plan everything from there. After that came hair and makeup, which was provided by Total Cosmetology, and wardrobe, provided by the Spokane Civic Theater.
After all of that, Marc Harvey, treasurer of the PAC and the one to plan the whole shootout, created and assigned 10 major shoot concepts to second year students. My assignment was to create a prom themed photograph. Part of the goal with these shoots was to give the images to the REC for their own marketing purposes, and to showcase that their venue could be versatile in functions. Weddings, proms, parties, meetings, plays, concerts, etc.; we had to make sure we could show that it could all be done.
For my shoot, I had to do a lot of pre planning: finding people to play prom queen, prom king, a high school principal, a DJ, and a whole crowd to fill an audience. I have to give a huge shootout to my fellow classmates who pulled it together for me and brought some nice clothes to the shoot to play as extras, the whole shot wouldn't have been nearly as effective without you! Prom queen was played by PAC member Emily Mitchell, prom king was played by Jadon Woodard, a model from Big Fish Talent Agency, the principal was played by Robert Cullen, PAC member, and the DJ was played by Steven Tinnell, also a PAC member.
On the day of the shoot my brain was totally scrambled. The night before, I had to make myself an entire list of things to do so I wouldn't forget anything! I arrived at the REC at 8:00 AM and immediately started hauling equipment up the the 6th floor of the building where my shoot was. We began to set up lights and the sound system on the stage. I then sent Abby Muir (best friend, roommate, and fellow student photographer) to go pick up some balloons to be in the shot. Then, Erik Sohner, our professor and also possibly the coolest person I happen to know, came up to help me out, and that's when everything almost fell apart for me. My lighting was, in more or less words, completely wrong. I had diagramed lighting out weeks before and thought I had it right, only to find out that what I'd set up was going to turn out "flat" and "dark." Two words you NEVER want to hear as a photographer. I started to feel like I couldn't handle it, and I became flustered. There were countless elevator rides where we went to get more equipment that Erik had to persistently tell me to take a deep breath.
About 2 hours later, we had completely changed and redone the lighting. It was finally time to do the shot! I got all my extras placed in a crowd, got my models up on stage and began shooting. Within 10 - 15 minutes, I'd already gotten my shot done. It always blows my mind that we can spend 2 -3 hours in setup making everything perfect, only to spend a small amount of time actually taking the shot.
Once I was all done, I was pretty happy with the results. The shot came out exactly how I'd envisioned it, which is all I could have asked out of the whole thing.
A HUGE thank you goes out of everyone who helped on lighting, participated in the shot, Erik for holding me together and making sure everything went well; and all the contributors to the shootout that make it possible. It was an extremely amazing opportunity that I'll probably never have again. I lost a lot of sleep and a lot of sanity this past week, but it was all worth it for the sake of the experience.
My decision to go to SFCC for Photography continues to return the most wonderful experiences to me almost every day of my college career. I've made friends and business alliances that are going to invaluable for my future in this job. I'm feeling pretty grateful for a lot of things right now.