MY VOLUNTEER ASSIGNMENT was to photograph the mass choir comprised of 250 singers from 11 churches.
That shot came near the end of a 1 ½ hour Festival of Choirs event Sunday afternoon at my church, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault. Choir members from churches in Eagan, Faribault, Inver Grove Heights, Janesville, Morristown, Northfield, North Morristown, South St. Paul, Stewartville and Waseca performed separately before joining in singing four songs of praise, thanksgiving and hallelujahs.
Now, when I cover an event like this, I do not simply stand at the back of the church aiming my camera lens forward. Oh, no. I rove, searching for photo ops and angles that will tell a story. That is the photojournalist, and artist, in me emerging.
My pastor promised that if anyone got upset about me ranging here and there taking photos, they could speak to him. With that pastoral blessing, I set to work, moving from side-to-side of the sanctuary, tucking myself behind pillars, crouching beside pews, scooting along pews, crawling, squatting and, finally, for that mega choir group shot, climbing onto a chair.
At one point, I even slipped off my shoes and stepped onto a back pew, leaning on a stranger’s shoulder for balance. A spongy pew cushion does not make for a stable perch.
Because I shoot without flash, I knew I had to hold my camera perfectly still with each shot. I also knew that would not happen. But that is the beauty of shooting digital. Overshoot and you’re bound to have enough “good” photos.
I was also acutely aware that simply photographing choirs performing at the front of the church would not make for particularly interesting shots. So I watched for the personal moments, the snippets that comprise the whole.
That takes patience and observation—consciously choosing to notice individuals and details—and often a bit of luck.
TO THE ORGANIZERS OF and participants in the choral festival, thank you for blessing us with your musical talents. I cannot read a single note and thus so appreciate those of you who do and who share your gifts.
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling