Take a look at the picture above. Incredible, no?
It's Quebec comedian Rachid Badouri playing to a human ocean of over 100,000 raving fans at Just For Laughs' outdoor site last Saturday night.
The photo is astonishing, iconic, tells a story and, most importantly, sells.
It sells an event, sells an emotion. It will help Just For Laughs:
- sell to sponsors ("Look how many people we attract!")
- sell to performers ("This adulation can be yours, too!")
- sell to the public ("Fun en masse!")
- even sell to itself ("THIS is why we do it!")
Thing is, this photo almost didn't happen. Lemme tell you the story of how it did.
We had a perfect storm of magic last Saturday--gorgeous weather, a Pinkarnaval Parade that brought a few thousand more people to an outdoor site already jammed with thousands of fans waiting to see Rachid. As is my habit, I alternate my watching of shows from "The Room" (in this case, the Place des Festivals site) and backstage, and on my way back, I noticed a young photographer at the side of the stage with the following image filling the screen of his laptop:
I was knocked out, but told him that while spectacular, the image could've been taken anywhere--Club Soda, the St. Denis Theater, a conference center in Wyoming, you name it! I asked the photographer--a young man named Charles William Pelletier--if he had the chance to take a shot that included the crowd, which to me, was the story.
When he said no, I told him to gather his stuff, and took him with me backstage.
Once there, our timing was impeccable. Rachid was in the wings, waiting to return to the stage as one of his invited performers was performing a guest set. I asked if he would mind if Charles would take to the stage and shoot from behind (this could freak some performers out...particularly if unexpected).
The answer was a fast yes, and the result sits atop this post.
So, the lesson in a nutshell? Well, there are two (expand your nutshells!):
1) Consider what you're trying to "sell" when you take a photo...whether it's a major product launch or a mere vacation shot. Is it the "look at me," the "I was there," the "look at this" or the "you won't believe this"? Or something else altogether?
2) Change your perspective from time-to-time. The obvious vantage point may not always be the best one.
By the way, click on any of the photos here to see 'em in full-screen glory. And with that, one last look at Charles William's magic Rashid photo, this time in dramatic black-and-white: