A year ago, when I shot this same event, I was overwhelmed. I’d just purchased a new camera, and new lenses. I was finding my first feet as an event photographer, and with poets, particularly. Granted, I’d shot the Women of the World Poetry Slam a few weeks before, and I was feeling good. But it’s obvious to me now, with a year’s distance, that what felt like comfort was far from comfort. If you could say I’m now cutting my teeth, then, I was just opening my mouth.
This time out, I knew my camera. I knew my lenses.* I shot a color calibration sample before the show, and set my white balance properly. (And I knew I’d probably ignore color completely.) I knew what I’d get when my images came off the camera later, and I trusted my instincts. Where last year’s show was like riding a monster wave of stress and self-assurance, this time was calm, easy, deliberate, and structured. I’m learning to sail this boat, by golly.
Chances were taken at the ABQSlams Grand Slam. Brooke von Blomberg and Damien Flores both read new, tested-but-not-guaranteed work. And though a lot of standards were trotted out, they all came with fresh energy. What emerged was a fresh team:
I couldn’t be happier about that spread of voices, talent, experience, and approach.
*Okay, not quite. Hard to say if it’s the camera or the lens, but autofocusing on onstage faces, one lens hit its mark in about 1 of 20 shots. I’ve used it a lot over the last five months, but I spent a lot of this show taking test shots and manually dialing in. So 2017, look out.