I was asked if I could photograph a Quinceanera by a guest at Brad and Rene's wedding. Having never done a Quinceanera before, I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to practice shooting in a new (for me) "social environment". As I had hoped, it gave me a chance to practice some shooting techniques I don't get to use very often.
The Practice Session: The assignment was broken into three parts: the Practice Session, the Full Length Formal Portrait Session, and the Quinceanera itself. Photographing the practice gave me a chance to meet my "Q-Girl", her escorts, and her attendants. After some routine photos of young men and women learning the customary dance steps from the official event choreographer, there was some time for some fun shots. I recalled that Phillipe Hallsman created a series of "Jump Photos" where he made photos of people actually jumping in front of his camera. Mr. Hallsman contended that a person's true personality could be seen at the height of their jump, revealing his subject's unguarded personality.
What started as a simple exercise turned into a 45 minute giggle-fest where everybody wanted to be photographed with different people in the party. I certainly managed to break the ice, and I later leaned that the "jump session" was the subject of much discussion that evening, all complimentary.
Learn Something New: For this outdoor portrait I was using two Nikon SB-900s mounted in a Lastolite EZBox II Flash Bracket triggered by two Pocket Wizard Flex units. Nikon SD-8a supplementary battery packs were added to cut recycling time. I used a shoot-through umbrella as a light modifier which Cissie held aloft on a paint pole. I put two ceiling-pointing speedlights on the floor of the gazebo to light the interior. I discovered that if the Pocket Wizards are configured to fire in the manual (not iTTL) mode, the single flash impulse would properly trigger the two optically slaved Gazebo lights. This required a good bit of adjustment prior to Gretchen's arrival, but made for a less complicated lighting solution.
The Main Event: Photographing the Quinceanera itself was very much like a wedding. You'll be required to apply a variety of exposure techniques under a variety of circumstances.
After some obligatory formals, it's off the the next venue. Since we're leaving the church, the approach will be more of a combination of event and journalistic photography, with difference approaches for each new situation, allow me unrestricted use of my speedlights. More to follow.