Paul Mitchell the School Portland Graduation 1/2014

In addition to talking to PMTS Portland students about Evernote, I've had the opportunity to shoot the last two graduations. It's always a lot of fun to work with a bunch of very creative, talented people.

Lighting

Lighting in this building ranges from bright overhead light to very dim fluorescent, so it presents a challenge. We move from a prep room, to a hallway, to a stairway, to the school floor at a fairly quick pace, so setting up off-camera lighting isn't practical. As much as I hate to use it, the occasional camera-mounted speed light ensured I got the shot.

1/125 at ƒ4, ISO 400, 50mm with camera-mounted speed light

1/125 at ƒ4, ISO 400, 50mm with camera-mounted speed light

When the speed light wasn't practical, I increased the ISO, opened up the aperture, and set the shutter speed around 1/100. I was shooting with a 25-104 lens, so 1/100 was a fairly safe speed for most shots. It gave me a good mix of freezing the action while still exposing properly.

1/80 at ƒ/4, ISO 6400, 60mm with existing room lighting

1/80 at ƒ/4, ISO 6400, 60mm with existing room lighting

Keeping Up

Once the event gets started, it moves along pretty quickly. Because I don't want to get in the way of the proceedings, I typically run around the back of the salon floor to get from the stairway to the end of the runway for the fashion show part of graduation. Once that's done, I try to find several vantage points behind the audience that give me a good view of the graduates. I actually like having some audience heads in the shots--it puts the shot in context.

1/100 at ƒ/4, ISO 4000, 105mm with room lighting

1/100 at ƒ/4, ISO 4000, 105mm with room lighting

Post Processing

Five years ago, I would've walked away from an event like this with 1000 pictures to sort through. These days, I tend to shoot a little more selectively, and only ended up with 500. Out of those 500, there were about 100 that were shared with the school. Since I shoot this event for fun, I am a little less picky when it comes to selecting the images the client sees. The downside to this is that it takes a little longer to process all of the RAW images. I'm happy with the way they turned out, and look forward to shooting the next graduation.