We have another Photo Premium tutorial exclusively available to Premium members today. In this tutorial, we’ll take a look into photographing the 2012 World Choir Games. Learn more after the jump!
In July, the World Choir Games came to my city. This semi-annual event included 15,000 singers from more than 60 countries. The first games happened in 2000 and have alternated between European and Asian locations until this year when the games came to the U.S. for the first time.
I was part of the 50+ volunteer team that photographed the games. I worked with the coordinator of the team to cover some of the more out-of-the-way or special events. The Games lasted almost two weeks and included four awards ceremonies, countless “friendship” concerts, dozens of competition concerts and several workshop every day.
Taking Cultural Training
All of the more than 4,000 local volunteers for the Games took a training course that covered many things, but I felt the most important part was what some might call cultural sensitivity training. When you go to a foreign country, learning the local ways and traditions is daunting. But imagine learning what is acceptable and what isn’t for 60 countries.
Luckily, the German foundation that runs the Games, Interkultur, has amassed some universal things that will keep you out of trouble. The first might seem simple, but don’t touch people. Shaking hands, pats on the back, hugs and other forms of contact have very different meanings depending on where you are in the world.
It seems that the opposite is true for smiling. Smiling is the universal human symbol for “I want to be nice to you, please be nice to me.” It helped me countless times. So keep that in mind if the Games ever come to an area near you.
Creating your Shooting Strategy
This might be something that is handed down to you from your supervisors or might be something you’re creating on your own, but it’s very important to have a strategy.
Get maps of all the areas that will be used. Get a schedule for as far out into the future as you can. And most importantly, find someone who can help you. At the Games, there was a press room. Had I been shooting the Games on my own, I would have made it my first stop every morning.
If the first thing you do every morning is plan your day, then it actually doesn’t tie you down to a schedule. It allows you to know what’s important and what isn’t. So if you find something interesting that’s not on you list, you know if you have time to shoot it.
Make a Few Friends Early
Envato, the parent company for Phototuts+ and Tuts+ Premium, is based in Australia. That gave me something to talk about when I ran into an Australian choir from Sydney. I knew they were going to be my insiders.
At a big event like the World Choir Games, it’s important to realize, that photographers don’t come first. The participants do. They’re often going to get information way before you do.
Keeping up with the Aussies throughout the games, they gave me that insider perspective. They told me about side trips that different choirs were making together. They told me who the good choirs were, who the Cinderella choirs were. They knew their competition and filled me in. This allows me to look for legacies and upsets.
You don’t have to make many connections like these, but it helps to have one or two to give you the view form their side of the event.
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