Recently I was asked to shoot several educational projects my firm has worked on over the last couple of years. The work was comprised of 3 schools (2 high school, 1 elementary). The work was completed roughly a year ago. Because of the economy and other factors my firm hadn’t taken the time to photograph the work properly. With the focus on publicly funded work, like education, my firm needed higher quality photography of previous built work taken.
What made this task interesting was that I had several restrictions on how I shot. First, I had a list of spaces that needed to be shot. Then, I had to gain access to these spaces and make sure that 1. They were “clean” so that I could shoot them 2. That they were not being used and 3. I could not have any students in the shots… Seems simple enough, right? 🙂 many times I had a 10minute window to get the shots. Case in point I needed to get some shots of the cafeteria space for one of the schools. When I was prepared to start shooting it I had 15 minutes to walk across the school campus, get to the cafeteria, and start shooting before the first wave of students came crashing into the space for lunch. I couldn’t wait till after lunch as it would be much later in the afternoon before the cafeteria would be ready to shoot and clean again. Also, depending on schedules, they use the space for other functions later in the day so the setup might not of been what I wanted for the space. So, 10 minutes… No problem.
Much of the work, as I mentioned before, was finished over a year ago. So, a lot of wear and tear had taken place with many of the spaces. We are talking schools here which take a lot of abuse. A couple of such places I had to shoot that get a ton of use, and don’t look so new, were the chorus and band room, the gymnasium, and the boys locker room (talk about smells that haven’t hit my nose in years – some things never change).
Technically speaking I had to shoot quickly and without any supplemental lighting. With a lot of the projects I have shot for my firm I have not used supplemental lighting that much for the interior spaces. I have used my speed-light in some cases but much of the work is multiple exposure, and balancing of light and dark areas are done in Post processing. As my equipment grows (especially in the area of lighting) so will my ways of shooting some of these spaces (if the logistics for that would work). Much of what you see from this shoot is fairly bland. These spaces are “utilitarian” and are designed for heavy use. These shots won’t win any photography awards but they do give a much better quality of images to show for the firm’s marketing material, and will help tell the story much better than some of the under or over exposed Point and Shoot shots taken during punch lists and end of construction surveys of the project. That being said, setting up lighting for these types of shots just aren’t needed or necessary (Note: all the pictures here are from my shoot at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee and is part of the Leon County school system).