photo prose: Gary Rabenko

Bright and dumb


He loved my photography twice before, but chose a friend to shoot this Bar Mitzvah’s video.

Each moment’s ideal angle will tell the story best and render subjects pleasingly.

Here I was hog-tied with regimented personnel on both sides. Their approach made a mockery of what video should be. New York City’s top lighting and floral designers created a breathtaking venue. Light beams dazzled. Ultra large video screens had a cutting edge wow factor. Exquisite floral detail glowed under purposeful illumination. But before guests could experience the miracles all about, the videographers crushed it!

The client promised me that the crew would work around me, and with me. But they did not.

The moment it all comes together for the client is not a time to ask him to referee his venders. The lot was cast. Into the melee was I thrust. All night I would be competing with a large tripod on one side and two other ponderous cameramen on the other. If I backed up to see more persons, sought more flattering angles or searched for other family members, I faced glaring lights that robbed me of vision and had me photographing only backsides while key players drawn to the lights the whole night would play to the videographers.

The majority of the guests experienced much of the same frustration: blinded, bumped, closed off from those they came to celebrate with. All the magnificent ambience created by the other venders and coordinated by one of the most wonderful party planners I have had the pleasure of working with was overpowered, overcome, buried by boorish brutish videographers who feel that they have to be on top of the subjects with 64 times the needed illumination, and lenses closed down to get ocean depth focus.

How magnificent their result could have been if they stayed back, on elegantly painted ladders, from the corners of the dance floor, letting the existing light tell the story. How much better too if they had the handheld skill to walk about the crowd — alongside me — with wide open optics on cameras that allow rapid follow focus.

Using the existing light would have been beautiful. Overpowering the existing light was wrong.

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