Recently, a friend of mines (Tauna, Production Director at Dynamite Editorials), invited me to go checkout The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale, California. We went during the opening weekend. The faire is at the Sante Fe Dam Recreation area and runs up until May 19th.
As an introverted photographer, it is really hard to put myself in front of new people at crazy events like the Ren Faire. But I take it as a challenge and not let my introvertedness get in the way of my photography (obviously, as you can see from the photos). I actually use my camera to bridge the gap between myself and a stranger. Its quite a tool. And I had no idea what I was getting into. So when Tauna asked, I obviously said yes because she knew what was going on and she has been there before. Not to mention, she was in character too and kept being greeted in old English by all the gentles at the faire. Plus, I had been craving to do a personal project since it had been a while when I did the last one (I am an Entrepreneur, which was in India).
I took my Matthews light stand, Apollo Octabox, shoot through umbrella, and my full camera bag (which is huge!). That was seriously a lot to carry around the huge faire grounds. Thankfully, I had Tauna carry my octabox. First thing I decided to do was to walk through the whole faire so that I had an idea of what was actually going on. We reached the very end of the faire and we saw these military personnel having their [real] lunch.
It was seriously a photographers' heaven. People were already dressed and in their characters in life size sets. Some art direction from Tauna, lighting, and posing; and we were set with the photos. A lot of times we were working in huge spaces and other times it was in small spaces like inside the tent. Nonetheless, it was crowded.
Initially, I used my light stand to hold the umbrella and lights. But I still had my camera on my shoulders while shooting since I was scared that it may be stolen since there was just a lot of foot traffic flow everywhere. After about 2.5 hours, the weight of my camera bag (30 Lbs) was seriously taking a toll on my strength to do more photography. Finally I made the decision and we walked back to the car to drop off the stands and the octabox. That was a 30 minute roundtrip walk to the car and back. Once we returned to the faire, we started photographing from the beginning of the faire instead of walking all the way back.
This is where we found our cover model, Richard. He was a very impressive character. Initially, I had no idea what I was going to do with the photos other than just posting them to a gallery on my website (which you can check out here: http://www.dhrumildesai.me/gallery/characters-of-renaissance-faire). But once I came home and checked out the outtakes from the trip, I had to do something more impressive. And thats when I decided to make a magazine style PDF book in Lightroom 4 and upload it to http://issuu.com/desaidhrumil/docs/renfaire (please click to zoom in and the view the completely rendered photos...otherwise somehow they are looking grainy, but they are not). This way you can flip through the photos. The ISSUU publication is embedded at the end of this blog post.
Phew! I felt so much better after putting away all the heavy equipment. So now, Tauna was my human light stand. Thank you for holding my lights! At this point, I was much more relaxed; and having a lot of fun photographing around the faire. That does not mean it was easy. While most characters were very inviting, some people would just not behave as you would want them to. Though I must say that the talking human light stands are always very well behaved (same technique was used for the I am an Entrepreneur shot in India).
Though I was seriously tired after the trip and didn't wake up the next morning, it was a great experience overall. This was the best thing I have done so far this year. Personally, seeing these characters enjoying their time so much made me realize I have no life and I worked too much for too long. The lines between work and personal life were blending. And it was just work, work, and more work all the time. Though I do seriously enjoy it, I made a decision to have a little more life and have an experience through my journey in professional photography. And this was a great personal project for that. You still have to work hard to achieve something, but at a slower pace just so that you can soak in all the experiences.
Please check out this series on my website at: http://www.dhrumildesai.me/gallery/characters-of-renaissance-faire. And don't forget to like our page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DhrumilSDesaiPhotography.
Below is the magazine style publication. Make sure to view it full screen and then zoom in by clicking to view the photos clearly. Happy flipping through the pages!