I recently updated the brochure that I first designed six years ago for Plymouth Church School. This time the project was very special for me. In 2006, I wasn’t shooting professionally. In fact, two months earlier I upgraded from a point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR, and I wasn’t yet sure if I’d even like photography as a hobby. I designed the 12-page brochure to fit into a No. 10 envelope, and with the full-page photos opposite the pages of text, I knew it would be a challenge to compose photos to fit the tall, narrow dimensions.
Plymouth Church set me up to work with church member and professional photographer Michael Nemeth. I was horrified when he opened his camera bag and started to load film into his camera, but it all made sense later. It turns out that he was moving to the midwest the very next day, and if he shot digitally, he wouldn’t have had the time to download the photos, process them, burn them to a CD, and mail them to me. Instead, he handed me his film canisters after the shoot with instructions to drop them off at his lab, which was conveniently near my office. A few days later, I picked up the contact prints, made my selections, and had the negatives scanned.
I brought my brand new Canon Digital Rebel to the shoot and made a few photos as Michael made his. I realized afterwards how inappropriate that was, especially since there were times when the children didn’t know whom to pose for, and I hope I didn’t ruin any of Michael’s shots. I learned many other valuable lessons from Michael as I watched him work with the children, and I think they’re responsible for much of the success I’ve had working with Plymouth Church and other clients since then.
For the new brochure, my client asked in advance for the cooperation of students and teachers, and she had an idea of where and when to be to capture the scenes she thought would work for the message of the brochure. The rest was up to me. I shot for a few hours, moving between classrooms and playgrounds, photographing children playing, making art, reading stories, and engaging in all types of creative activities.
My client characterized the results as “an embarrassment of riches.” There were too many perfect photos, and we had to narrow it down to just five. This is actually a wonderful problem to have. Below are some of the photos that almost made the cut. I’m honored that Plymouth Church took a gamble on me as a new photographer after Michael Nemeth moved away. The church’s trust and Michael’s inspiration are a large part of my success as a professional photographer.