My last photoshoot of the year was a tough one. I had to travel to Orlando and DisneyWorld to photograph my granddaughters' breakfast with Cinderella in the Magic Kingdom castle. My wife had booked the visit six months earlier, and I had better get those photos. These sessions are more stressful than a wedding. At least, with a wedding, I have a second shooter and a whole ceremony to take the photos. Here, your beloved, little tykes get about two minutes with Cinderella in a big room (no flash bounce), and you can only carry so much gear since you're going to breakfast immediately afterwards (no reflectors or umbrellas). That means a single flash, softened with a light modifier. I had my wide-angle zoom ready, so I could get close. I dialed down the flash a bit to keep it from completely blowing out the scene.
Since I'd never seen the Cinderella set, I had to work through the problem before we got into the park. As soon as we got into the castle, and while standing in line, I was plotting out my strategy. The Disney photographer was also using just a single flash, so I had guessed correctly there. She moved to the side to let me in when the girls were first in line (very polite). I had time for about six shots each, and we were out moved out for the next girls. It was very fast and there were no do-overs.
During breakfast, there were other Disney characters visiting the tables, so I took a few more of the kids in the cluttered restaurant. The 16-35mm zoom was great - have I mentioned enough how much I love this lens? Again, the Disney folks were very accommodating.
The pictures pleased the granddaughters and, way more importantly, their mother and grandmother. Whew!
The lighting is still a little flat, but the photos are about as good as you're going to get without moving other diners or moving the characters around the resaurant. That wasn't going to happen anyway, so I'm satisfied. And, as we've said before, the most important audience is your subjects.
I had lots of other photo experiences during the trip, as we careened through four different parks in four days. I'll save those for another day. Here's hoping your new year in photography is both productive and fun!