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The Makings of a Perfect Shot

Posted by Stuart Wemple '20 on Dec 24, 2018 8:00:00 AM

A06I8179On October 31, Mr. Whitworth, an amazing photographer, photo teacher, and mentor presented me with a really interesting opportunity. He explained that each year Tabor Admissions sends a seasonal greeting to prospective families and wondered if I wanted to be involved in capturing the image they had in mind. The idea was a photograph of the S.S.V Tabor Boy dressed with white Christmas lights, rather than signal flags. As a former crew member, and as a photography student, I was eager to help.


With the guidance of Mr. Whitworth and Mr. Lawrence, digital media manager in our communications office, I had the privilege of learning how to organize a proper photo shoot. The first step, as with any successful project, was planning and troubleshooting. Mr. Whitworth and I had a conversation regarding all the possible creative and logistical issues that could evolve. “Could we do a long exposure from the drone?” and “We will need a boat and driver in order to get out to Tabor Boy and to get photos from the water.” This simple dialogue was extremely effective in making sure that the shoot would operate smoothly. Time was limited. By the time we got out of class at 15:15 to loading the launch and dressing ship, there would not be much sunlight remaining to get the shot before sunset around 1700. We had to be organized and ready to take advantage of the best light.

I proceeded to email Capt. Geil about the logistical issues, and he helped me to sort everything out, providing a launch and driver for our use, securing the lights, and briefing the crew on the project. Next was figuring out the proper equipment. Tabor has an abundance of equipment for photography from multiple drones to cameras, tripods, and even a launch to shoot from. With the crew ready to dress ship, the last step was to actually go out and take the photos.


A06I8191Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Whitworth, and I loaded the launch and headed out to Tabor Boy. It was a perfect night. The sky was clear and the water was glassy, just right to get the reflection we hoped for. The student crew on the Tabor Boy set right out to dress ship in the white lights. Wasting no time, Connor and Sophia went aloft to guide the lights to the tops of each mast; it was something to witness! I attempted to launch the drone to take a timelapse of the lights being raised. Unfortunately, Tabor Boy’s iron hull messed with the drone’s compass. With some quick troubleshooting, we decided to launch the drone from the launch as it is made of non-ferrous material. The shoot began at last, and I made sure to get all the angles possible, both on drone video and photo, and with the DSLR. This was the only opportunity to get the image; and I hoped I would be able to capture a beautiful shot.

To my surprise, the biggest learning experience happened well after the shoot was over. I had gone back to my dorm to edit the images and felt confident there were many good ones to choose from. So, the next day, I brought them over to Mr. Lawrence to choose which one they wanted for the card. About 15 minutes after dropping the hard drive off, Mr.Whitworth called me. “You didn't give the images to Communications yet I hope” he said. “Yes, I actually did,” I responded. He asked me to go back and get them because the project was not yet done. He explained that I had to be the one to choose the images, and that he wanted to review them with me. It was at this moment that I learned the most important lesson. Mr. Whitworth said, “When turning in the images from a shoot you must think about the next shoot. Not the one you completed, but the one you don't know about yet. The one that will result from the person who sees your work published from this shoot.” This lesson was crucial, it was about retaining control of my art and how people perceived me as a photographer. After reviewing the images with Mr. Whitworth, I turned in the five photos I was most proud of, and which I believed best represent me.

When I delivered the final shots to Communications, they were very complimentary, thanking me for my work, and for delivering it all on time. The project was a win-win-win. Admissions got just the image they envisioned for their card, Communications got it on time to get the job done, and I got an education along with some great additions to my portfolio!

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Topics: Tabor Academy