the Proto Photographer

Just add photography juice

Amateur Photography

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[photo credit: Aaron Kaffen @]

I’d like to take a minute to explore the idea of photography as a social medium. Not in the sense that you can be a photographer at social events. But that photography, itself, can be an occasion to connect on several levels with other people.

My first real experience of this nature occurred at my friend, Emily’s, going away soiree. I’d been asked to put together a photo area during the event where guests could have their picture taken with the party girl, leaving an album of pictures that Emily could take with her to Chicago.

I’d spent $35 at the party store putting together the cheapest Prom backdrop I could imagine, and built a basic two-light studio area in the corner of the loft where the party would be. By the time guests started arriving, I’d dialed in the lighting, focus and camera settings so that the rest of the night could be a blur of mindless shutter releases. Blurry it was, but never mindless.

The evening got off to a special start when a guest came over to my make-shift studio with a bottle of whisky that had been covered in a fresh, masking-tape label that read “Photography Juice.” Then I hit my lights, and the guests took notice.

The two Lowell hot lights kept attracting the increasingly inebriated party-goers until a line had formed half-way across the loft. Emily stood in for the first thirty or so shots. But, after she left, the line kept growing into a swaying stream of revelers, full of energy and looking to act out in front of the camera. Slowly, my role began to shift from photographer, to performance artist. I would act out activities in pantomime to inspire movement in my subjects. They’d, in turn put on a show for me, sometimes funny, silly, other times awkward, sexy.

Emily would wander back over from time to time, always in a bit worse shape than the last. I’d goad her back in front of the lens to get another time-lapse frame chronicling her night.

Things went in very much that same manner for hours. It wasn’t until four or five in the morning that everyone started stumbling out. By that time, I’d taken over three hundred photos, met thirty or so new friends, kissed a couple of strangers and consumed most, if not all, of the Photography Juice.