When I first started going to my school as an English teacher, I also volunteered to be the school photographer. So when they recently asked me to do the school portraits, I sprung to action, with my favorite assistant, hubby extraordinaire.
When we started early during the day, we were a two photographer team, but the light conditions changed and I needed E. to help me create more light onto the kids’ faces, with a reflector. The kids thought the whole situation was very funny, which turned out to be a not so good thing: try and shoot portraits of over 240 giggly fidgety kids!
Let’s talk about fidgety for a second. I had imagined teaching in a school for underprivileged kids would be like those commercials on television, where they show little Elena who lives in a slum, dressed in rags, all puppy-faced, walking in mud. You then send money, and poof! she’s all cleaned up, got a haircut and is sitting pretty in school. Ah! Not true! They do not sit still! Ever! Those kids do not know the meaning of staying in place. They are always playing with a pencil, or a piece of lint, or scratching their arm, hitting their neighbor, standing up, rolling on the floor, standing on the tables, jumping off the tables (I have pictures to prove it), elbowing their too-close classmate. It is not a tv commercial, it’s hard work! (Yet, if you are contributing financially to a reputable organization, please continue to do so. Foreign currency goes a long way).
By now, the kids know me, I have been there for a while. Only a few have met my husband up close. Personally. As in, a foot from his face. What is your name? E… How do you spell that? E-D-W… And they take off running, laughing their little heads off! Who are you, why are you here? I am Akka’s husband, I am here for the school pictures. Oh. And they take off running. (Akka means Elder Sister in Tamil and this is how kids refer to women in the school.)
When we show up with a 42 inch round white-silver reflector, that was the amusement of the day. Akka, what is this? Let me show you. And there we demonstrate reflecting available ambient light onto a face. Without fail, the response is AHHHHH. And they take off running.
Several hours of editing later, I have the portraits for most of the children in the school.