I had received quite little information regarding this prom, other than it was for the Richmond Ashburne and Sheavyn halls of residence, it was being held in The Palace Hotel in Manchester and that there were going to be 2 photographers covering the event. For comparison, the only other prom I had attended was my own from 6th form. A relatively small, low key event held in some function room at the local airport. I had dyed red hair back then and spent most of the night inhaling helium from the many balloons that were scattered around. A forgettable event, which is good because I don't remember much of it, a side effect of the alcohol and helium.
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous at first. I was confident in my abilities but nervous about the magnitude of the event.
I arrived and setup my lighting. I then got word that the other photographer had cancelled last minute, leaving me to cover the whole event by myself. How big was this event going to be anyway?
One of the organisers led me to the main room where the guests would be dining, then partying. It was one of the largest function rooms I had ever seen, tables and chairs arranged as far as the eye could see. "How many people are you expecting?" I said, trying to hide my panic. "Oh, over 500 should show up".
I had to photograph a 500+ person event, full of potentially drunk university students, on my own.
I returned to the hallway where I had setup my lighting and took a few moments to calm my nerves. I was comfortable with all the individual photography elements I would have to do tonight. The meet and greet, the formal photos and then the party. It was just putting that all together, with so many people! Speaking of which, the meet and greet room was becoming full with people arriving. It was time to shoot. "okay, just go out there and take some fucking good photos" I thought to myself.
The calm before the storm
After taking the first few photos, the nerves begun to subside and quickly things just became easy. I spent most of the first part of the night doing the formal photos with the light setup. For each group, I would do the nice formal serious ones first, the "year book photos" as I called them. After that, I gave them the option to do some "less formal" ones, which pretty much everyone said yes to. For the guys, I suggested something I called "dapper dapper James Bond". "Think, Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, smooth" I would say to the guys, and for the ladies it was "Charlies Angels", yeah I couldn't think of anything else. But this really helped, engaging with the people made the whole process fun, as it should be. Groups often came back for more photos, sometimes with new people and sometimes with new poses.
After working through all the groups, which took most of the evening as people kept coming back, I finally joined the party. Here, there was much dancing and drinking. It was very busy so I asked one of the organisers if I could go onto the stage to take some photos. I just wanted to get a slight vantage point to get some overview shots, nothing too fancy. What I wasn't expecting was the organiser to go to the microphone, and loudly announce my arrival when I entered the stage. Suddenly everyone turned around and started cheering me. Wow, I guess this is how a rockstar feels. With the crowd's attention, I got some fantastic shots of the whole group.
Overall, everything went beyond to plan. It was a lot of work but it was even more fun. I think I might try and shoot a few more of these proms this summer.