So I photograph kids. From time to time I get asked to photograph kids parties, and most of the time I decline those jobs. I find that many of these parties don’t really offer me the opportunity to make my style of image. The parties have too many kids and are typically going when the light is the worst. Plus, I always feel like I have to shoot too many different things. I end up taking a digital camera, shooting too much, editing too much, etc. But now and then, when the opportunity is there, I will shoot a few images at a party. In this case, Super Dynamite’s 5th birthday, which was a seamless blend of bouncy house, Star Wars and Lego, three things that go together like tequila, salt and lime. At first I grabbed my Leica, but early on felt I should use the Hasselblad. It felt odd doing this because this is such a slow moving camera. Twelve clunky images per roll, of kids buzzed on cake and light sabers would probably not be the first choice of the discerning photographer, but for some reason it just seemed like the thing to do. I had three rolls of film and knew that that was PLENTY of images (36) to really sum up this party, IF I was a good photographer. A photographer whose brain was not disconnected. I would make an image, then sit down, have a conversation, a beverage, chew on some item and then get up and look for another image. Sometimes a half hour would go by between shots. Clunk. Beverage, conversation, snack. Clunk. Beverage, conversation, snack. I was a kid party photographer mastermind. I felt NO need to photograph every kid, every parent or anything that didn’t have a direct relationship to my view of this event. There was no pressure, no expectations, besides those residing in my mind. And after sixteen or eighteen beverages I was beginning to think I was Han Solo.
Watching these five-year-olds navigate this party was worth the price of admission. They had no Blackberries, no pressures at work, no deadlines to meet. These kids were oblivious to the rest of the world. Clunk. Beverage, conversation, snack. Before long the cupcakes were unveiled and five-year-old eyes glazed over with anticipation. Their tiny veins coursed with pre-sugar adrenaline and someone took a short stick to the Vader pinata. Candy rained like down like hail from a Kansas tornado. The cupcakes were presented and what followed, I have to say, is perhaps my favorite all time kids sequence of images. The light, not the best, but the black and white film PROVED it’s worth beyond my wildest dreams. Depth, texture and light, oh that precious light, bouncing from extreme harsh to deep shadow, all there with a simple 125th at 2.8. The kids massed near the chocolate as they waited for the Vader candle to be lit. The birthday boy, intensely focused walked us all through a world that only five-year-old can know, buddies by his side, sharing in the experience, trembling with the idea of what was to come. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. And finally, with my last image of the day, the entire experience was rolled into one split second of chocolate intensity. For a moment, one brief moment, Super Dynamite was one with the universe, the galaxy and all that’s in it. He was Luke. He was Han. He defeated the chocolate Death Star and lived to tell the tale.