Pressure, Speed, Agility, Joy
There is a joy that I experience when photographing performance. I love and respect the skill, the creativity and the artistry being performed. I thrive on the challenge of capturing motion, being able to tell the performer's story in still images, and convoy the emotion that has been crafted and performed. And the pressure to capture THAT shot is addictive. Very addictive.
Being able to read and anticipate performance enables me to capture the showstopper moments - the drop, the catch, the trick, the gesture, the look. Ask anyone who photographs performance - It's not about taking multiple photos to try and get that magic shot. It's about knowing or reading the performance, anticipating what is coming, and being there.
On top of all of this a performance photographer is constantly managing and adjusting camera settings. Lighting can be patchy, uneven, and will generally change from one act to the next, and often mid act. Lighting helps to create the mood, convey the felling for the performer, and it draws the audience into the act. It's not necessarily a friend to the photographer. I am constantly checking shutter, aperture and ISO, as well as resetting my focus point, all while composing in frame. You're unlikely to see a performance photographer checking the back of their camera after each shoot - we don't have time, and it becomes a distraction for the audience,and takes focus away from performer. We know and trust our settings, and we generally have a good idea of what we captured and what we missed (see us backstage during interval or after show though - we're searching for those images we instinctly know is a stunner!).
And after the event comes the editing. This can be a time of reliving the performance, and the opportunity to truly make the image, and the performer, shine. Editing is labour intensive, but is a necessary part of a photographer's process.
Finally, if you're working with another photographer, truly work with them. I've had the privilege of working with Tania Pendlebury for the last 5 years, I've learnt so much from her, and always look forward to events with her. And truly, her images are stunning (ok, maybe a little jealousy, but I suspect this goes both ways). When working with another photographer I always have an eye for where they are, and can then look for an angle that is counterpoint and will offer different perspective.
There's a rush in photographing performance - it's tiring, it's fast paced, it's an amazing workout.
And it brings me so much joy!