1. a father who devotedly photographs every possible moment of his child’s life.
Coolness is in your mind.
In my mind, I’m riding a Vespa, I’ve got a shock of black hair, I’m wearing a sleek grey suit cut off just above the ankles, no socks, cameras slung around my shoulders and I’ve probably just had my second espresso.
In reality, I’m a Dad-bod shoved into an old pair of boardies and a latte-stained shirt. I’m sprint-walking up the hill to school armed with an iPhone and a digital camera that has more functions than I know how to use.
I’m a Dadarazzo.
You’ve heard of the Paparazzi. Singular: Paparazzo.
I’m a member of the Dadarazzi. I’m a Dadarazzo.
As a Dadarazzo with a combined ten years of experience across two kids and many concerts, assemblies and sporting fixtures, I have knowledge to share.
They say one shot can make a career. Follow my tips and you will be a 99.3% chance of taking the pic that will adorn the fridges of grandparents, uncles and aunties for decades to come.
TIP 1: POLITENESS BEGETS POSITION, POSITION, POSITION
If you end up at the back of the hall, you might as well put the camera away.
You want to be early and you want to secure a spot up the front. But there’s a problem here too. At the front, you will probably have to be seated. Sitting down means bad camera angles: too much ceiling in your shots and not enough costume and smiles.
So how do you get to be at the front and stand?
Get there early and mind seats for your crew (mum, nana etc). Stay in your seat until hall is full and it is just minutes before the assembly starts. I give you my guarantee that at that moment an elderly lady – someone else’s gran – will walk through the special access door. Immediately offer her your seat in full view of the teacher in charge of kid crowd control (most likely the deputy principal). That teacher will reward your chivalry by allowing you to stand next to them on the side at the front.
Perfect shooting position.
TIP 2: ELBOWS OUT AND LOOK THIS WAY
You’ve seen this kind of action on red carpet at the Cannes Film Fest. The paparazzi battalion screaming “Leo! Leo! Leo!” when Mr DiCaprio strolls past.
Why the screams? Because they know that eyes looking down your lens in sharp focus is when magic happens. You want that shot.
The difference for us is that there is one “Leo” for every Dadarazzo. We are screaming for a thousand different “Leos” at the same time.
How do you cut through the noise? I recommend having a nickname for your kids that is short and easy to call out. And it is a nickname that only you and they know.
Your kids will find the lens first time, every time.
Oh, and to stop other Dad heads getting in your frame, have your elbows out. Nothing creates space like pointy boney elbows.
TIP 3: THERE AIN’T NO RULES
I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of announcement just as the lights go out:
“The taking of photographs and video is not allowed during the Mega Dance Super Show. A DVD of the Mega Dance Super Show will be available for purchase for $25. Enjoy!”
There is no way I’m paying $25. Does anyone even DVD anymore? And have you ever watched one of those things?! You’d be lucky if your kid is in the centre of a shot for more than 3 seconds.
No. It is time to go stealth mode. Flash off. Phone to silent to stop clicks and whirs. Then work out how you can shoot without drawing attention. I find that iPhone up against chest is a good one so the glow of the screen is concealed. I’ve even shot with the phone peeking out of my top pocket. But you can also experiment with jacket sleeves and awkwardly held backpacks.
TIP 4: TECH YOU FOR THE MEMORIES
Let technology do your remembering for you. Whether it is Google Photos, Facebook or Snapchat, having your work backed up and recorded for posterity somewhere other than your device is a must.
I personally recommend Google Photos. (This is not a paid sponsorship.) But you can set Google Photos to automatically back up every pic and video you take.
Then you don’t have to wonder what you were doing on this day 1, 2, or 5 years ago. Technology remembers for you.
TIP 5: FOOTWEAR THAT OPENS DOORS
Sure, closed-toe shoes are safe and pass the OH&S test. But footwear you can slip off quickly is better than Batman’s utility belt. You can jam a thong or a flip-flop in an emergency exit for easy return access. A pair of slides can operate as a makeshift tripod. And a jandal is ideal as a poor man’s Steadicam.
If you really want to take it up a notch: a pair of thongs with a built-in bottle opener underneath (google it, they exist) will open doors in another way. It will make you some new Dad friends. And one of those Dads just might be the ones who let you in the front of the queue next time.
Happy shooting. See you there.