I got my first game as the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue photographer in the books. It was an great experience and I can't wait until the next home game. Here are some photographs from the second Dallas Cowboys preseason home game. I decided for this game to rent a wide angle lens to experiment with getting some different shots. I heard about new Tamron 15-30 and the rave reviews, so I decided to rent it from Borrow Lenses for this game. It did provide for some interesting angels (see the first 7 images below). Here are some shots from Game 2. You can view a larger version of the photographs below by clicking on the image.
Awwwww yeah! It's game day. The Dallas Cowboys first preseason home game against the Vikings. I'm excited because it's my first day as the photographer for the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers and Drumline. It's sort of my preseason as well. Here's how the day went.
Here's a run down of my game day gear list:
- Nikon D750: This will be my main body.
- Nikon D610: Second/backup body.
- Tamron 24-70: For my first day this will be on my D750.
- Sigma 70-200: This will be on my D610.
- Since I wasn't sure how things will go, I'll have both camera bodies on me so that I don't waste time switching lenses.
- SB-700 Flash: Just in case I need to shoot any indoor photographs
- Rogue Flash Bender: To use with the SB-700
- Spider Camera Holster: This thing is expensive, but one of the best investments. I have various shoulder straps, after hours of shooting, my shoulders would be really sore the next day. With the Spider Camera Holster system (think old western gunslinger kinda belt), you have your cameras on your hip, man it makes a difference at the of the day. Well worth the money.
AT&T Stadium has two plazas, the Miller Lite Plaza on the west end and the AT&T Plaza on the east end. The DCRB dancers & drumline perform at both stages starting at the Miller Lite plaza. Then we have a convoy thru the AT&T Stadium main concourse to the AT&T Plaza. After performing there the convoy goes back to Miller Lite Plaza for the final stage performance. Then we have a Mardi Gras style parade (minus the beads) to the upper concourse. You can see the schedule posted on the DCRB Facebook Fan Page before each home game.
Lessons Learned From Day One
Probably the biggest lesson I learned is that I don't have to carry both camera bodies. I can shoot with the Tamron 24-70 for my wide angle shots on one stage and switch to the Sigma 70-200 for close ups on the other stage. I have plenty of time between performances to change lenses. I'll try that next time to see how that works. Also, because we are outdoors, there's plenty of light so I don't have to be concerned about maintaining a high shutter speed, but I do have to change my camera settings between stages, because for the late games, the west stage (Miller Lite Plaza) is in direct sunlight and the east stage (AT&T Plaza) is in the shade. I ended up using Shutter Priority at 1/500 of sec. I did take some indoor shots, so the flash came in handy. I never used the mono-pod so I don't know if I'll bring it next time.
Below are some shots from game one. I'm a photographer, so I'm always on the look out for something interesting, so I won't be posting photos of DCRB. It will be a mix of interesting shots including some behind the scenes photos.
For the 2015 NFL season, I'm the photographer for the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers and Drumline (DCRB). The DCRB dancers are the ONLY coed hip-hop professional dance team in the NFL! They perform at all of the Dallas Cowboys home games and make special appearances around the country. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, this is a super dope opportunity. How did I get this photography gig? Glad you asked. For real, I've gotten that question several times.
I love the hip-hop dance genre, so back in 2014, on my own initiative, I started photographing local hip-hop dance events as a personal project. I started searching for hip-hop dance events around Dallas, when I came across the World of Dance tour. I blogged about that event, which you can read here. To date, I've actually photographed 3 WOD events, 2 in Dallas and 1 in Houston. From there I went on to photograph the Dallas Hip Hop Dance Fest, Monsters of Hip Hop Dance and other dance events around the Dallas area. The dance community in Dallas is a small world, I started seeing the same people at each event, and I developed a reputation for my photographic work. As a result, I started getting calls to photograph hip-hop dance events and classes. There's one person in particular I want to point out, Paul Gosling. Paul was one of the parents for a dancer on the Hooligans Dance Krew. He hooked me up with several opportunities and referrals from dance classes by some industry leading choreographers such as Laurieann "Harlee" Gibson and Will "WilldaBeast Adams, to a Monsters Headphones product test shoot. Thank you Paul for every opportunity you brought my way.
Along my journey as a hip-hop dance photographer, I met Jenny Durbin Smith. The first time I saw her, she was a co-host at the Dallas Hip Hop Dance Fest. Soon after we started following each other on Instagram and we eventually met in person at the Monsters of Hip Hop event back in January of this year (2015). I didn't know it at the time, but she was the director and choreographer for the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Dancers. If fact, she has an impressive body of work in the dance industry. Back in June (2015), Jenny offered me the job as the DCRB photographer for the 2015 season. I didn't even ask what it paid before YESSSS leaped outta my month (not a good negotiating practice btw). Money didn't matter to me, it was the experience of shooting a professional hip-hip dance crew AND it's for America's Team the Dallas Cowboys. HOW AWESOME IS THAT! Thanks Jenny!!!
As the seasons goes on I hope to be blogging more about my experiences and sharing some interesting shots as well. We're already 3 games in (including the preseason), so I plan on getting caught up this week. Enjoy the ride er'body, cause I am.
For the second year in a row, I was a volunteer photographer at the World of Dance tour that hit Dallas on May 9, 2015 at the South Side Ballroom. I was excited about this event because one of my favorite dancers, Fik-Shun would be performing. I watched So You Think You Can Dance season 10, where Fik-Shun was the male winner that season, he quickly became a crowd favorite.
Last year I shot pretty much want I wanted, this year I had an assignment to shoot the vendors and attendees. Once the dance competition started, there wasn't much to shot as everyone was watching the dancers, so I shot the dancers from the audio booth, right behind the judges. I'm glad I brought my Sigma 70-200 2.8 and my mono-pod as they came in handy shooting from that distance. There was one dance crew I knew so I did shoot them from the front of the stage using a 17-35 i rented from Competitive Cameras. I prefer the shots from the audio booth because I didn't have to be on my knees for 4 hours, I could shoot standing up.
Although I wasn't prepared to shoot video, I ended up shooting over a hours worth. Short clips of each crew. With a 70-200MM lens and a monopod, the video came out very shaky. It's hard to shoot stills and video when you have a few seconds to switch between them. I wanted to shoot some video just for the practice and wasn't to concerned about the quality. Below are some shots from the event, you can check out my full gallery of images HERE.
A few months ago I did a internet search on "dallas dance." The reason being, I wanted to shot some street/hip hop dancers. What I found was the World of Dance tour. This was exactly what I was looking for. The World of Dance Tour, is the biggest urban dance competition internationally. The tour features street dancing and choreography from various age groups. The timing was perfect because in about a month, the tour was coming to Dallas. But I didn't want to shoot the event from the crowd, but right next to the stage, and that would require a press or stage pass.
I searched for contacts on the WOD website and sent an email requesting a press pass for the event. I got a response that my inquiry would be forwarded to the media manager. I got a reply from the media manager, Jon, the same day approving the media pass as long as they could use the images for social media. Of course I agreed. For those of you looking to get access to photography an event, here's the email I sent requesting a press pass:
My name is Fitz Crittle and I’m a local event and portrait
photographer here in the Dallas area. This email is in regards to
the WOD Tour that’s coming to Dallas on April 26th. I’m a fan of
urban dance styles and I would love the opportunity to photograph
the event. I would appreciate any consideration on extending me a
press pass for the event. In exchange I’ll make the images available
for use by WOD.
I apologize if you’re not the right contact. If that’s the case,
please forward the correct contact to send this request to.
Thanks for you time and consideration, if you have any questions
please let me know.
Fitz Crittle Photography
I was given a contact from WOD to check-in with once I got to the venue, Gilley's Dallas. I met the contact and he gave me a run down of the event and said I can basically shoot whatever I want. He then gave me a tour of the venue and where I can shot the dancers on stage. There was an area of about 15 feet next to the stage that was reserved for two photographers (including me) and the guy capturing video. There was also a room behind the stage where there were free style dance battles and anyone could participate. There was a DJ and a human circle and someone dancing in the middle, once they finished, someone else would go next. To the left of the stage was one of the major sponsors Paul Mitchell, in fact the tour is called World of Dance presented by Paul Mitchell. Paul Mitchell produces hair care products, there were hair stylist onsite, so that if you wanted to, you could get your hair did. There were several vendors there, mostly selling urban gear. I think every culture was represented at this event, that's what made it so cool. I under estimated how popular urban dance has become. It's evident it's become a sub-culture of hip hop.
Shooting the Event
OMG, this was the most physically challenging event I've ever shot. I was sore for days. I'll get to that in a minute. There was going to be some serious challenges shooting dancers. You've got low light and fast moving objects. I know then I was going to have to push my ISO to the limit. The great thing about the free style dance room, I could get some practice shots. For the gear heads, I was shooing with a Nikon D610 camera and the lens was the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8. I took a few shots and found that in order to freeze the action, I needed around 1/500th of a second. Because I had access to the stage, I actually went on stage to set a custom white balance. This is when I noticed the stage was not evenly lit, this meant I couldn't set the ISO unless I shot in one area. I decided that getting the shot was more important than noise, so I used the Auto ISO feature and set a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 and maximum ISO to the highest setting. I kept the aperture of 2.8.
I stand about 6'5" and the stage was about 3 feet high. This meant I was going to have to kneel during the performances. Now I'm kicking myself, because I started to buy some gel filled knee pads, but didn't - man did I regret that. This was about a 4 hour event, about half way though, my knees where raw and my legs were screaming. Near the end it, I got the point where I would take a few shots and sit down, I couldn't kneel for the entire performance any longer. A few times I just pointed my camera and shot blindly, that didn't work very well. This was all my choice, I didn't have to shoot "every" performance. The guy shooting video only shot about 1/3 of the acts. But I decided to shoot every performance and I'm glad I did.
This was a great experience, I meet some really cool people. The next WOD will be in Houston and I plan on shooting that event as well, this time I'll have those gel knee pads or a chair. Check out the World of Dance YouTube Channel to see the performances. Below are some of the shots from the event, you can see more on my Flickr page where I've created a gallery - enjoy.
A few weeks ago, someone on Instagram posted that they will be performing at Opening Bell Coffee's (OBC) Open Mic. I was curious about that and went to OBC's website to see what this was all about. OBC has the longest running Open Mic in Dallas. Musicians sign up and play on a rotation for about 15 minutes which is normally two songs. Original music is preferred, but they do allow some cover songs as well. I decided to go to Open Mic night and see if I can photograph the artist as they perform. I spoke with the host and asked if it was OK if I photographed the artist, he said sure. I did offer the images for free for anyone who wants one. When I got there I was surprised to see one of the models I photographed at a works shop a few months ago. Below are some of the shots from Opening Bell Coffee's Open Mic, I also have some video clips on my Instagram feed.
The Dallas City Performance Hall was a nice venue for the 2nd Dallas International Fashion (DIF) show. The DIF was presented by Trendy Africa Magazine and was co hosted by the City of Dallas. There were several special guest in attendance, including Councilman Dwaine Caraway. The Emcee's for the show where comedian Wamilele and Jennifer Onwumere. The show included designers; Nick Rose, Aphropolitan, Blokes N Divas, Style is Innate, Bose Trendy Beads, TeKay designs, Studio D’Maxsi, Wumi O, Elizabeth Mae and Lucas Escalada. The designers displayed some incredible.
From a photographers perspective, it wasn't an ideal setting. The Dallas City Performance Hall has a stage so there's no traditional runway. The models came from the back of the stage, two by two. Then one model went left the other went right and walked along the side of the hall. They then walked up to halfway section and carried on to the other side, then went back to the stage, making a complete circle. The media was seated on the front row, I knew then that would be an awkward place to shoot the event. I shot about half the show from the front row, then I moved the sides where the models would walk after they left the stage. That was a much better place to shot the models. I was able to stand and shot them straight on, versus from a seated perspective on the front row looking upward. Overall I got some good shots from different locations in the Hall adding a nice verity of shots.
Here are some shots from the event, you can click "here" to see the entire gallery.
For the past year, I've exclusively focused on studio lighting when it came to photographing head shots or portraits. My goal was to learn the different lighting techniques and to develop my own sense of style in the studio. It has been a great learning experience and there's a lot more to learn. Over the last year I've made some great images and some not so great. But, that's apart of the learning experience. I found that I really like the look of beauty lighting or clam shell lighting styles.
I recently attended a workshop called "A Models Workshop." This workshop consisted of models, make up artist, photographers and stylist. The workshop had classes for the models and one for the photographers. The photographer classes were on studio lighting and posing, both where very good. Once the class was over the photographers attending the workshop, found a location in the studio to shoot the models.
The workshop was held at Brown Lane Studios. I've photograph almost all of my head shots and portraits in this studio. There is a huge natural light studio with windows from the floor to the ceiling. I've always wanted to shot in that studio. Although I brought my lighting gear to the studio, I decided to shoot all natural light portraits (except for a few shots taken during the studio light and posing class). I found a spot close to the window, and got a couple of V-Flats a reflector and shot ONLY natural light portraits. It was a partly cloudy day, but there was plenty of light streaming through the windows. I used a small reflector to add just a bit of pop. What I loved about this workshop is that the models had a session with each photographer through out the studio. I had the opportunity to take plenty of natural light photographs. I will say I was tempted to get my lighting gear, but I resisted. Overall, I was pleased with the outcome of the images, some of which I use in my portfolio. The great thing about natural light, you don't need a studio, just a good location and some shade. The best time is actually overcast days as the clouds act as a natural diffuser, softening the sun light. Below are some of my favorite natural light portraits from the workshop.
Back on May 1st, I had the pleasure of photographing the 8th annual Latino Fashion Week 2014 tour in Dallas. LATINO FASHION WEEK® |LFW™| is the only full week and tour dedicated to Latino Fashion in the United States, showcasing top Latino designers from Central and South America, the Caribbean and the U.S. In its eighth year, the theme for LATINO FASHION WEEK®, “Beyond Exceptional,” exemplifies those in the Fashion Industry that continuously push the boundaries of excellence. LFW™ is a showcase of all that is fashion during the 2014 Tour in the cities of Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.
The event was held at SISU Uptown Resort. The fashion show itself was held by the pool, which created a challenging environment to shoot in. There was no runway, the models walked along the side of the pool, and walked over a platform that was placed across the narrow width of the pool, then walked back where they came from. There were quite a few photographers there, so space was tight. I arrived early and I was able to get a decent spot to shoot from. It was interesting to see the late comers jocking for position, even getting a little pushy. Lighting at a fashion show is always a challenge, and it was no different at this venue, especially with an outdoor event. The lighting was uneven along the pool side and there was a spot light at the other end of the pool that caused lens flare, I just deleted most of those shots with the lens flare. Overall, I was still able to get some good shots and I met some really nice people. I big thanks to Delia De Avila from LFW for approving my press pass.
Below are a few shots from the event, click "here" to view the entire gallery.
Last Saturday, I had an opportunity to shoot an event at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. This was my first experience shooting an event of this size and I was excited about the opportunity. The three day event I shot was the DFW Golf Show. There were some well know sponsors for this event such as Edwin Watts Golf, HP Byron Nelson Championship, The Ticket Sports Radio, CBS 11, Golf Digest and many more. It was a fun event, with door prizes, shopping deals, skills testing, lessons and competitions.
In planning for this event, I inventoried my gear to see if I had what I needed to get the job done. I had all the gear I needed except for one particular lens, the 70-200 2.8. I keep going back and forth on weather I would rent this lens. In the end I thought it would be better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. I contacted Competitive Camera to see if they had it available for rent, and they did. It was only $35 to rent. I'm so glad I rented because I used for a lot of shots, especially shooting the main stage. This lens is next on my list to purchase. A few days before the event, I got a shot list from the organizer, so I knew what shots I would be taking.
When I got to the convention center, I located the event organizer whom I had communicated with a few days prior to the event. We went over a few details, confirmed I had the shot list, and I was off to shoot the event. For the next four hours, I walked around the convention and took the required shots on the list as well as anything I found interesting. I was surprised how many families where at the event, which was great, because I love candid shots of people. Here are a few shots from the event.