I was not nearly as smart or motivated as my parents hoped I would be growing up. I was enrolled in all kinds of honors and AP classes in school, but did not do as well as I could have. In retrospect, I probably could have finished with a better GPA had I stayed in the more mainstream classes, but I enjoyed being around the honors students since they took the work a little more seriously and hoped that the standards would rub off on me. I was only partially right.
One of the things that keeps me in the Lindy Hop community is the energy and creativeness. I gave up working on my dancing a long time ago, but it does refresh the soul to interact with so many interesting people on a regular basis.
Lindy Focus is usually a great time to catch up with so many of them all at once. This year I decided to take advantage of such a concentration of talent by turning my room into a makeshift studio to work on my own lighting skills. I scheduled a bunch of shoots throughout the week to figure out my equipment and what I liked to do with it. However, I had nothing planned for New Year's Day because there was a chance I would have had to leave early to serve jury duty on January 2nd. I did not find out that was not the case until late New Year's Eve. I suppose I could have slept in the next day and finally relaxed after such a long week, but there was one more project I wanted to do.
Mark Seliger has been doing a pseudo photo booth after the Oscars for the past few years. It's actually more of a pop up portrait studio. The lighting and production values are really impressive for such a temporary thing, but what draws me is how very talented people react to being in such a situation after such a stressful and celebratory night.
I really admire the kind of photographers that can manage a photo booth especially at a big event like Lindy Focus. I don't think I have the personality. I've done it in the past and it's not really my speed. Too much, too fast , and all at once. I like being a little more deliberative and taking a more personal approach.
Around 3 AM of the New Year, I decided to start asking people if they wanted to participate in my idea some time after they woke up in a few hours, and found a surprising number of people who were game. A lot of people turned me down because they were headed out of town, but even a few of those said yes. When I posted on Instagram the first photo I took, I noted
"Jessica and Bobby messaged me around 12:11 pm that they had just gotten up. They were at my door, in their New Year's Eve best, at 12:39 pm. We took several shots, but I knew we didn't have to go longer after taking this very first one. Which is just as well because their ride was leaving at 1:30 pm."
One of the nice things about working with professional and semi-professional performers is that you don't have to direct them very much. I just created a situation comfortable enough for them to do whatever they wanted. Although, sometimes I had to remind them to turn their face towards the light whenever I thought necessary.
I squeezed in 13 sessions with 17 people over the course of eight hours. These are some of the highlights. I'll be posting many more including photos from my other sessions over on my Instagram page @j_s_almonte
In order of appearance: