Two Days – 1389 Portraits
Every year Xerox is a major sponsor for DND Family Days. DND hosts an annual carnival for the families of the Canadian Armed Forces at the Halifax Dockyards. The carnival includes fair rides, farm animals, displays, boat rides and more.
As part of our sponsorship we do free family portraits for the families of the Forces personnel that attend the event. Over two days we did 1389 family portraits of ~4200 people. We always have lines up for the photos and we even had some come on Saturday morning when it was raining. Many people comment on the photos we did for them in previous years.
How We Did It
One side of our booth is the “studio” and the other side is the processing area. I brought a backdrop from my home studio and we had two bails of hay for people to sit on as the event had a western theme this year. We also had some cowboy hats. Two Alien Bee AB800s with umbrellas provided the light and these were connected to my camera using Cybersync triggers. The Cybersyncs were very reliable and we didn’t have a single misfire.
We used my Canon 50D with the 18-55mm F2.8 lens. I think every picture was sharp over the two days. Fast focusing is very important when shooting kids as sometimes you only have a fraction of second to catch the pose. Knowing the child’s name really helps to get their attention. The camera was tethered to a Macbook Pro using a USB cable and Canon’s EOS Utility. The EOS Utility generates a preview and this was displayed on a second monitor attached to the Macbook. Each image tranferred to the Macbook in 1-2 seconds and was displayed automatically on the second monitor facing the crowd. This was a crowd pleaser!
The camera was set to medium resolution and high quality JPEGs. This was enough of resolution for a 8 1/2 x 11 print and everything processed faster. All the camera settings were registered to custom function C1 and duplicated on C2. This made it very easy to restore the camera settings when inexperienced photographers hit the wrong dial as we had several inexperienced people shooting.
The EOS Utility was writing the images to folder which we monitored using Adobe Bridge. This worked very well. When I was creating and testing the workflow I tried to use Lightroom but I encountered some limitations with Lightroom. It could automatically import images but everytime an image was imported it would interrupt anything else you were doing in Lightroom and this quickly become frustrating. I couldn’t set a default aspect ratio for cropping and I had to export images and use a Photoshop Droplet (action) to create the frame. I decided to use Bridge and Photoshop.
Pictures were selected in Adobe Bridge and opened in Photoshop. Each image was cropped manually and then a Photoshop action was run to size the image, add the frame and print two copies. We printed two copies as we received many requests for an extra copy for Grandma or someone else in the family. Additional copies were available on request. Of course all images are printed on a Xerox Phaser printer using Xerox Elite Silk 80lb cover.
Tethered shooting was very efficient and we had no line ups for prints this year. We were able to do each photo session in 10-20 seconds and completed prints were done in 1-2 minutes. Of course we had line ups for photo sessions all day.
It was a great event and a lot of fun for everyone. It generated a lot of good PR for Xerox and I expect we will be back again next year to support our troops.