As part of my day job I produce commercial videos for staff training or marketing, trade shows, advertising. This weekend I leveraged those editing skills for a personal project. A friend recently passed. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Once the shockwave finished rolling through the community, his widow and family chose to hold a remembrance event, a celebration of life. He was in life a jovial soul. Rarely missed a party. Was, in fact, to be found at the centre of most of them. Quick to laugh, slow to anger, loyal to friends. A gentleman and a gentle man. An all round good guy, he would want this as much as friends and family needed it. Cathartic.
We needed to let people know about the event, so I made a flyer and it was posted on various socials and around town. As part of my weekend job, I shoot weddings and other events, so I was happy to volunteer when asked. No fee for this one, I insisted. He was a friend.
Cometh The Hour
September 17th saw over 300 guests gather at the Canadian Corps in Port Colborne. Music. Speeches. Food. Friends and family contributed, cooking and running food and setting up tables and the PA system. Everyone including the venue staff worked hard behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. All went without a visible hitch though there were likely many curve balls we didn’t know about. A little known secret of any event however well planned is this: They never go to plan.
One curve ball came my way. I had brought gear and was set up for photos. My photographers vest contained three lenses, plus one on the camera, and a spare battery. When approached by the widow at the event with a casual “Hey, we arranged for a piper to come down the street in a few minutes. Think you can get that on video? Also, mother wants to record all the speeches.” I blinked once and took it in stride.
Not my first rodeo. Roll with it.
Cometh The Man
A quick trip to the strategically parked car whose trunk is home to a wide variety of rarely used gear kept there for just such unexpected moments, and I was soon back with a telescoping pole, a tripod, and a gimbal.
Short version, I captured the arrival, the bagpipes, and the piper’s departure in beautiful 4K goodness. Then I set up my tripod and captured over 20 minutes of speeches, leaving the video camera running while I worked the floor with the photo camera to capture crowd reactions. I added some of these photos to produce the video of the piper you see below. I’ll work on the speeches next. Then photos.
Storyboarding and shot planning in your head in real-time is a skill. Juggling possibilities. These skills come with experience and a stubborn refusal to panic. Figuring out solutions in the moment is quite an adrenaline rush in the path of the runaway train that is an event-in-progress, and very rewarding. Both personally and professionally: Brides do not forget when you save the day. Oh, the stories I could tell.
For an entirely unscripted, unrehearsed impromptu shoot, with no rehearsals or walk throughs or do-overs, a true one-shot live running gun take, with no sweepers to clear the path as I walked backwards for a couple of hundred yards navigating crowds… yes, I’m proud, and very happy with how this sequence shot and cut together in the edit.
Even more importantly, so is the widow and family.
The event is done. Time flows ever on. I made the flyer, shot the video. Now I move on to other tasks. This week I edit the photos. Put them into an online gallery. Make coffee table books. Posters. Collages. That’s the fairly easy bit. I can take my time. No curve balls to deal with there. I can polish my photos to make them shine.
After the event, now the dust begins to settle, I do reflect in my quiet moments, that when my final work is delivered it may give comfort and solace in some small form. But it won’t replace the man. A few minutes of video and some photos are not much to mark a life well lived. He was a big man with a big heart. He was loved by many. Including my wife and I.
He will be missed.