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 That mindset is obsolete once other people are involved.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
WARNING – DO NOT ATTEMPT
I shouldn’t have to say this, but here we are.
I am an experienced fire performer photographer. Photos taken with fire involved professional fire performers with proper fire safety training, equipment, and procedures in place.
The use of fire comes with inherent risks to life, limb, or property. Any action you take based on any information on this website is strictly at your own risk and I will not be held liable for any loss or damages you caused to yourself or others because you chose to use fire in any way.
TL; DR: Don’t be a bogan wook. Leave the siiiiiiiiick fire trails and fire plumes to the professionals and support them by cheering their performances in person!
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!
From the venue, from the performers, from anyone you point your camera towards to photograph. Always get consent.
Think about this: is it really that difficult to ask for permission, or are you just lazy, entitled, and possibly predatory?
Always. Get. Consent.
Coming up, I’ll share one of my favorite photography techniques to help you take better photos of fire performers. Have you ever fired a rifle before? It helps.
How Does Safety Third Apply to Photographers
What is Safety First?
Your first priority-to-protect is to the audience and people, above all else. Don’t let anyone get injured or killed because of you.
What is Safety Second?
Your second priority-to-protect is the venue. Don’t burn the fucking place to the ground because of you. Don’t interfere with the performance. Don’t knock shit over. Don’t break props. Stay out of the way.
What is Safety Third?
Your third priority-to-protect is yourself. Know your equipment. Stay sober. Carry liability insurance because it’s cheap. Keep both of your eyes open when looking through the viewfinder. Keep your head on a swivel. Communicate constantly.
What is Safety Fourth?
Your final priority-to-protect is 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.
Bottom line is to protect the life, limb, and property of others first, yourself next, and your equipment last.
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