Q – How do you photograph fire performers without killing yourself and everyone around you?
A – Learn about “Safety Third” and “Consent Always.”
RECAP OF PART ONE
In the first part of How To Photograph Fire Performers and Flow Artists, we started with a very broad level topic and looked at how to improve your fire performer photography by trying to see through the lens as a photojournalist. Those elements involved capturing the effort made by a human being with something against adversity. As a sports photojournalist, that “something” is usually a ball, puck, shuttlecock, a javelin, their fists, or even themselves. As a fire-performer, that “something” is their prop: poi, dragon staff, fire fans, hula hoop, sword, scythe, or whatever else has been modified with appropriate wicking.
I’ll start by going out on a limb here. Camera settings, and the the type of camera, at this stage are mostly irrelevant. The most important element to be aware of, at all times, is not the flames, not all the cool tricks, flashy tech, the fire trails, burn offs, and dragon breaths. When photographing a fire performer, it is not the fire that matters. It’s the performer.
In this next segment we’ll touch upon three things that will, hopefully, help keep your awareness squarely on the fire-performer where it belongs. We’ll look at safety third, and how to help them maintain safety third via consent.
No, seriously. Safety Third.
Everyone is familiar with the idea of safety first. Protect yourself because your life and safety are your responsibility, so always do things with your safety in mind. That mindset is obsolete once other people are involved.
Performers, artists, photographers, contractors, and business operators use a slightly different set of safety protocols because of liability reasons. In the multiple layers of liability involved, your safety must not come first. It is third. Your duty to protect always lies, in order, with:
- The Audience
- The Venue.
- Your equipment
As a photographer trying to take good pictures of fire spinners, how does safety third apply to you?
- The Audience. Don’t kill anyone, remember? You are part of their Safety First layer and they are part of your Safety First layer.
- The Venue. Don’t burn the fucking place to the ground. Don’t interfere with the performance. Don’t knock shit over. Don’t risk bumping into the performers.
- Yourself. Don’t Die. Don’t get high. Don’t get drunk. Don’t be like The Naked Guy, above, and take too much 2C-I.
- Your equipment. Better to drop a lens than trip onto a performer. Better to fall on to your camera than knock fuel everywhere. Equipment can be replaced. People can’t.
How do you help each other to maintain each other’s Safety Third? You start with realizing that you and the performer(s) are both now a part of a dance together. How do you properly begin any dance? You ask for consent from everyone.
While most fire performances are outdoors, some are indoors. Unless you are clearly on any publicly owned way, you are most likely on private property, even if it is at an outdoor space. Photography of any public event, any person in a public way, and any person reasonably visible from a public location does not require consent to photograph as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
That does not matter.
How many problems are caused by photographers who do not gain consent? From paparazzi to sexual predators, photographers already have questionable reputations in some people’s perception. You can help change that perception with three simple words: always get consent.
bUt AdRiAn WuT iF tHe VeNuE SeZ PeOpLe aRe Ok WiTh PiCtUrEs So I dOn’T HAVE tO AsK tHeRe pErMiSSiOn?
It does not matter.Adrian Feliciano
From the venue, from the performers, from anyone you point your camera towards to photograph. There is really nothing more I need to write about on the topic.
Think about this: is it really that difficult to ask for permission, or are you just lazy, entitled, and possibly predatory? Always. Get. Consent.