Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/06/06

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Techniques Please?
From: Rick Dykstra <>
Date: Tue, 06 Jun 2000 22:10:52 +1000
References: <047001bfce83$94fcdb20$7156059a@hughthompson>

I've just tuned back in folks. Thanks to Dan, Dan, Hugh, BD and Martin
for your tips, particularly the 'steeenkin' ones.  Its good to get a
fresh perspective on a photography situation I'm kind of saturated with,
if you get my drift.  Gotta stay awake to new ideas....

Some of the things that I do, with lessons learned, are:

The teams come at me at a furious pace at times during the day, but I
have to look calm and casual (even if I'm not).  Often there isn't time
to allow the coach to organise the players.  Often they just confuse
things. So, I take over.   

With under 6's, I'm like their favorite teacher - get down to their
level - tell 'em what we're going to do for the next ten minutes and
what I'd like them to do to help me.  Like Dan said, don't talk down to
them.  They're usually pretty easy, and really enjoy the occasion,
although they can be slow to move.  Must be patient, they're keen to
please and easyily upset if they detect they might've done the wrong
thing. If one blinks for the portrait, I pretend the camera didn't work,
and take another.  I've learnt that saying 'Oops, you blinked!' means
smile gone for good.

Under 7's are just more confident versions of U6s.  Pretty easy to deal with.

With under 8's, 9's and 10's, I'm their drill sergeant.  I try to take
charge quickly and surely - sometimes it even works :( .   On occasions
I've even put 'em through a few marching drill moves, which can work
very well, 'specially if I can get the coach to join in.  If the coach,
manager and parents are all yelling at the kids telling 'em what to do,
I clap my hands over my head, wait 'till they're all quite and then say
to the team in a quiet voice 'For the next few minutes I want you all to
listen to me and only to me' and the adults usually get the point 
(Shutup will ya!).

Under 11's are just impossible.  It's their job.

Under 12's and up - treat 'em as adults.  Sometimes they respond in
kind.  From this age, the boys teams get easier and the girls teams get
harder.  U12's to 14's girls can be a real handful when they're having
their photos taken - but they have fun.

What to do with the observers?  I ask all the parents of players up to
around U11 to get right behind the camera tripod for the team shots, in
a tight bunch.  That way, they're easier for me to communicate with (ie,
'shhh please') and if a child does look at mum (instinctive for little
ones if mum says 'Smile Jenny' with an urgent voice), they're virtually
looking right into the lens. This was a lesson hard won.  You could put
the parents behind the team in an effort to avoid turned heads, and then
get shots of the back of the kids heads, guaranteed.         

Using the 90 for portraits puts about 2.5 metres between the camera and
the subject, which avoids intimidating the kids. Its narrow field of
view also makes controlling the background easier.  And it makes that
look that the mums and dad's tend not to get with their own cameras.

The difficult 9-10 year old boys?  Dan's 'man to man' talk tip seems to
work pretty well.  A quick quiet and private word such as "I've got work
to do here and I need your help for a few seconds" usually pays off. 
But what I'd like to do is use some lines from Dirty Harry .....

I haven't found the answer for the 6 to 8 year old that starts crying
because I'm taking longer with his portrait than with the other kids. 
Hopefully mum's around, like last weekend. If a little kid just doesn't
look happy, I'll ask one of the other kids on the team (generally lined
up off to the side of the subject) to come and stand behind me and pull
a face or make donkey ears on me.  Click. If that doesn't work, then mum
or dad peeking from behind me is the next thing to try.

All in all, it's exhausting and fullfilling, and a great way to earn a
little 'justification' pocket money with my Leicas.

Thanks for sharing your ideas with me.


Rick Dykstra

In reply to: Message from "Hugh Thompson" <> ([Leica] Techniques Please?)