impromptu photography gig

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    My husband’s high school reunion is this weekend, and we are both going. He suggested that I become the “unofficial” photographer for the event. Since they probably will not have an official photographer, candids will be the norm. I am considering doing it because I will only know a few people and really don’t care to know the rest. This could be a good distraction (in addition to the booze). It could also be a socially awkward nightmare.

    My reservation is that I am not an overly outgoing person under normal circumstances. How do I get over this to take pictures of complete strangers?

    Thoughts or suggestions welcome.


    Funny… I just did the same thing for a workshop I attended all last week. I realized early on that there wasn’t a photographer (at these things there’s always somebody, and I hate being in front of the camera) so I just jumped in and started shooting. I didn’t ask, and no one cared. I posted the shots on a SkyDrive account and put the link on the group’s Yahoo Group. I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback.

    Go in shooting. Don’t ask. You will be stunned by how many people will pose without you even asking. Also, realize almost everybody will have their cell phones and P&S shooting their own shots. They’ll be grateful to you for introducing quality photography to the event.

    While I may or may not be as outgoing as you, being behind the camera instead of in front of it really helps mitigate the stress.

    Seriously, just act as if you should be doing it, and no one will care. There may be a few shy people… don’t shoot ’em directly.

    Make sure you have a way of sharing these with the participants, whether it’s collecting email addresses on a napkin, or whatever… people will be less pleased if they can’t access them if they want them.

    (Also, think of this as an opportunity to get some entries for the Portraits of Strangers hoppered contest)


    At David’s high school reunion he just wandered around taking pictures and everyone was happy to have him take pictures even if they didn’t know him or weren’t friends with him in high school. At these sorts of functions people expect there will be photography and pretty much ignore the camera or pose without asking, as Yugoboy mentioned, so I’d say go for it.


    I will only know a few people and really don’t care to know the rest.

    That’s why I didn’t bother with my reunion this year. The ones I wanted to know, I already do, for the most part; the others… well, there was a reason we didn’t keep in touch in the first place.

    I’m also not an overly outgoing person (my wife would laugh and say that’s an understatement), but I was recently asked by my inlaws to take photos for their 50th anniversary party. It was a big gala with 100+ people, many of whom I didn’t know or barely knew. What I found is that when you walk around with a camera larger than a P&S, people tend to think you’re there officially or at least know what you’re doing and are happy to pose or ignore you while you take candids.

    If social anxiety is a problem, tell yourself that you ARE the official photographer and use that to provide an isolation layer for professional objectivity.

    As Yugoboy mentioned, some will want to see the pics, so plan ahead to have some way of sharing them. Other than that, just remember that you’ll likely never see most of these people again (aside from possibly the next reunion), so enjoy yourself. 😉


    What everyone else said, plus:

    My 10th reunion was a bust–staged by the ‘popular’ (and mostly highly religious) clique; for the popular and religious group (no alcohol was served, mind you); most of us left by 9pm and gathered at the nearest pub. Being the shy and geeky guy, I stayed there for about 30 minutes and went home.

    But the 20th was put together by a person whom I really didn’t remember much (because I was a major pothead in high school), but who remembered me well and bugged me to attend until I finally relented. She stalked me on MySpace when MySpace was at it’s peak and I’d become a 2nd tier blogger with a semi-decent following. As such, I didn’t yet have a DSLR or know how to take a good picture, but I went with my P&S for the ‘photo blogging’ factor.

    I had a ball. I took oodles of bad pictures which everyone was absolutely okay to have taken, and wound up becoming friends with a dozen or so people with whom I’d had no connection with in high school (we gather a few times a year for dinner, BBQ, etc.) Later that night, I went to jail (not a DUI–an expired warrant, charges were later dropped, it’s a whole ‘nuther story) but up until that happened, the camera helped me connect, regardless that I didn’t know what to do with it, and I had a good time and made some new ‘old’ friends.

    The best picture of me from that night was my mug shot. 🙁

    But the photo blog I wrote for the occasion was highly successful. Make lemonade, so to speak, and have yourself a great time! (But skip the getting arrested part, if you can. 😀 )


    I have blown off both the 10-year and 20-year reunions for my high school. I moved and transferred high schools in the middle of 10th grade so I didn’t really establish any long term bonds. The few people I connected with I am friends with on facebook eliminating the need for a face to face reunion. Limited human interaction is one of my favorite things about the internet.

    Apparently at my husband’s 10-year reunion a newly single gal and a single guy were nearly “fully involved” on the dance floor. They had to be asked by the class president to find a more private place for their reunion. If that happens at his 20-year this weekend, I’ll have my camera to capture it. That sort of thing seemed to garner a lot of votes for olavf in the Shore Thing contest.


    I’m not sure my class even HAD a 20th…

    I know the 10th was a miserable clusterfuck, mainly because it was held at a drinking establishment, and the organizers failed to reserve the place, so there were the regulars, along with the kind of person who goes to a 10-year reunion (i.e. not me… I sent a 2 word message with somebody I knew who did go).

    My wife and I (both from the same class, but we hooked up later) have no intention of going back… 25th is in 2 years… god am I old…

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