This morning I got ready to do the largest group shot of my career. This is the type of thing you can’t fully plan for. You play it out in your mind, and pray that you will get it right.
You also pray that your equipment will be sufficient for the task. (Although, since taking the shot, I now have a bunch of ideas as to what equipment will make it better the next time. The question comes up, will I do this kind of shot often enough to justify the costs?)
I arrived at “The Hill” (Hill Cumorah) about 45 minutes early. Already there were missionaries arriving in droves. I saw many I recognized, but I was surprised how many missionaries I had never even seen before. This was a HUGE group.
I first looked at the study pavilion. The roof was too low and there was not enough room to fit the estimated 200 missionaries in a photo. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining, and the sky was lightly overcast.
Scouting around, a found a steep terraced area just outside the pavilion that would work. And, the nearby lamp posts had 110 VAC plugs I could use for my lights. (Otherwise, I’d have to use my very slow battery powered flash units.)
Leah, a college student that is interning with me, helped set up the lights as I taught her about the mechanics involved. We no sooner got them set up when they said they were ready. I started out by trying to line them up in order of height. That wasn’t working, so I just started posing them. After several agonizing (for me) minutes, I had them all in place.
Looking at the view on the camera, I realized I was too close. I started backing up and realized, my camera was too low. With the camera a good 9 feet in the air, I could see I was getting the entire group.
Getting a group this size to laugh was the easy part. The hard part was watching for people adjusting their hair or glasses, scratching their head, looking to see what the person next to them was doing and so on. I took several shots, and then when I got back to the office, had to select faces from 4 different shots in order to get the best view of everyone. Even then, there were 3 or 4 people who just seemed to be slightly hidden in every single shot, in spite of my best efforts to avoid that.
The New York Rochester Mission
I didn’t have much time after that before heading to the temple for my evening shift. My shift at the temple went well, and there was quite a few guests, including some of the missionaries in the photo. One of them said to me, “You did a great job getting us all to smile and laugh.” Well, it shows in their faces, but I can’t take credit for all of that. What shows in their faces is that they love their Savior, Jesus Christ, and they follow his commandments.
They also have a great mission president. I will greatly miss President and Sister Christianson. I love his claim that nobody loves the Book of Mormon greater than he does. President and Sister Christianson also love their missionaries, and it shows in how these missionaries carry themselves and how they treat others.
One final note, as I was leaving the hill, I heard them singing, Hark All Ye Nations. What a marvelous sound coming from such a marvelous group of missionaries.
D. Brent Walton is a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer residing in Palmyra, New York. His work is found namely on two web sites: www.FineArtbyDB.com and www.dbwalton.com. The first being art for your home, business and office, the second being his wedding and portrait work. Most recently, his work has been featured in The Friend Magazine (January 2013 through May 2013), as well as Professional Photographer Magazine.