Saved by the Bell

Man you were busy. But then weren’t we all back then? I sure remember sweating over shoots when things went south. This is the first Opening Night of Benaroya Hall in September of 1998. I was hired to make a portrait of the audience from the stage. I originally turned the job down. Partly because they had a low budget, but mostly because I feared I would get stage fright and fuck it up. Since the opening of a new major music hall, it was this grand black tie event. Also the evening was to be broadcast live on PBS. They allowed 10 minutes to make this shot. Since I turned it down they hired Fred Housel, but for some reason he backed out at the last minute and begged me to step in. So I did, but had to stick to their crappy ass budget and hire Fred’s assistant, whose claim to fame was knowing about lighting big event like Sonics games. Like it mattered, we didn’t anything to do with that. In the end he made more money than me. But I rented a panoramic camera from Glazers and test drove it to make sure I knew how to use it. It was 120 camera that made 6 exposures on a roll of fill. You have to double cock the film advance, otherwise the film would overlap. I was shooting neg film, so I knew that would be forgiving. The night of the concert, I waited back stage, sweating bullets. I waited and waited while they set  up the stage. My 10 minute window turned into a 90 second window. We rush to the crow’s nest, set the camera up and they announce we are to take this portrait. I am bumbling around and just start shooting. Suddenly I notice I am up to exposure 8 and go oh shit, I had forgotten to double clutch. I freak, knowing their no time to reload. I double clutch and shoot one last frame and get the hell out moment before they go live. I drop the film off at Ivey and hope that there is a god. It was Saturday night and sweated the rest of the weekend, knowing I would be run out of town on a rail if I fucked up this historic moment. I race to Ivey first thing Monday, ripping the package of film open there in the lobby. Just like I thought, there was eight overlapping, useless frames. And one, slightly underexposed good frame. Saved by the bell. In today’s digital world this gig is a piece of cake and I wouldn’t even get stage fright.