How To Improve Photography of Fire Performers, Part 4

Q - How To Take Better Photographs of Fire Performers?

A - Always keep moving and don't be an asshole as you shoot.


In Part One of this series of tips to help improve your photography of fire spinners, we looked at seeing fire performer photography through the lens of a photojournalist as a way to create stronger, more impactful images. After all, the human element is what draws us into any performance. In Part Two, Consent Always and Safety Third come into play, to remind you that a performer is not just a sparkly prop who happens to be spinning pretty fire -- there are many factors to be aware of, especially the importance of everyone else's agency. In Part Three, we began to delve into how to more effectively use the camera by using techniques taught to soldiers as Basic Rifle Marksmanship. You are, after all, shooting people with a camera.

In this post, I wanted to pick up where I ended off with the idea of Kinetic Shooting vs Static Shooting and which is better, as well as how Shoot, Move, Communicate helps to reinforce Consent Always and Safety Third. Ready?..


How and Why to Shoot, Move, and Communicate

TL; DR - Don't stay in one place. Once you start moving around, don't be an asshole. 

Photo of Artemis at a 2016 DRK Party in CT. Even parties and raves have their Uncle Bobs.

2011-04-30 DEERFIELD, MA - Naked Guy interrupts a rope-dart set at PHOTON, an underground hilltop rave.

  1. Always keep moving. Staying in one spot is boring for you, and does not help you make a picture interesting, especially one you realize that you happened to pick a bad spot to begin with. That's it.
  2. Once you start moving and shooting, but you are not communicating with people around you your intentions and gaining their consent as you move around ("S'cuse me, may I take a shot from here?"), being aware of possibly getting in someone's way ("Am I in your way?"), to apologizing for getting in someone's way ("Oh, I'm sorry, I'll get out of your way -- my bad!") then you become the dreaded Uncle Bob that wedding photographers love to make fun of amongst themselves who is always in the way of a good view. At best.
  3. At worst, you become like the Naked Guy who risks impacting the performance itself, and the safety of everyone around them. Imagine you are spinning a rope-dart, originally a weapon, requiring great concentration and awareness due to its sudden strikes and long reach. Now set the business end of it on fire. Along comes a Naked Guy who suddenly gets well within 10 feet and ends up between you and your safety, who is responsible for quickly putting you out should you somehow set yourself on fire, preventing them from moving our of your way JUST as you're about to fire off a quick strike in that direction.

Okay, that is all I wanted to go over for Moving around and Communicating, and all I will cover when it comes to the boring stuff. 


In the next post, we'll start to cover actual camera settings for specific fire props. I'll give you a quick spoiler: Settings are irrelevant to the prop.

I'll explain what I mean.