Making the Event Story Compelling

This past weekend I was asked to take photographs and co-write a story for the National Culinary Review on the Farm to Table festival in Columbia.

The festival is really a collection of events and training sessions. Most of these sessions are put on by chefs and farmers. The sessions featured different cooking, preserving and harvesting techniques. They also emphasized the importance of eating locally and seasonally to support farmers as well as to improve diet and taste of the foods.

I faced many challenges when trying to cover this festival. However, almost all of the challenges I experienced stemmed from the struggle to focus the piece on one specific aspect of the festival. I struggle with focus in general with stories, but find that covering multiple events is especially difficult. I soon found out that I couldn’t be in two places at once and figured out my priority should be with the most visually appealing events.

Technical challenges came my way in many forms. I first anticipated lighting to be an issue, as I expected many of the events to take place inside ballrooms or lecture halls. Instead, a large portion of the events were held outdoors or in large ballrooms with floor to ceiling windows. I was visually limited with covering some of the more contextually interesting events in low-light lectures, but did my best with a 1600 ISO setting and the occasional flash.

I feel as though the quality of my photos could have greatly been improved upon if I had an external flash to bounce off of the ceiling or other surfaces. My built-in flash time and time again proves to be rather inadequate in terms of properly (and EVENLY) exposing low-light situations. Also, if I had come into the situation a little more prepared about what events to cover and which to skip, I would have been less harried in my efforts.

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