Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Breakfast with the Grinch at Melia Atlanta Hotel

I have been photographing some interesting events during this holiday season. One of the more unique photo sessions happened on the top floor of the Melia Atlanta hotel. Their event room has incredible views of downtown Atlanta. Several of the patrons watched a holiday parade from this bird's eye view.

Photo by Melissa Witcher
The guest of honor was none other than the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" fresh from his musical play at the Fabulous Fox Theater. I did not see the play, but I can tell you that the stage makeup for the green meanie looks like it took several hours and a few assistants to put on.

I might have accidentally let that slip in front of a child who did not know who was coming to breakfast. I guess I let the Cat out of the Hat. I had figured that most parents would have warned their children that they would soon be seeing a 6 foot tall green hairy monster. I am just glad that the Grinch does not hide in my bedroom closet at night because I might not be able to get to sleep.

To everyone's delight, the Grinch was a complete sweetheart. He knew which children to tease and which ones to be gentle with. I was very impressed that he could read the moods of children that quickly. Not only that, the actor was a man of 1,000 faces and could change his expression and body language in an instant. No two pictures of him were alike. This guy was good.

After visiting with every family, it was time to take portraits with the Grinch. This was the main reason that I was hired. The goal was to take photos of guests with the Grinch and print them on the spot as a memento with a a graphic overlay as seen below.

The whole process from start to finish had to be completed in about an hour before the guests left. That was pretty ambitious considering that each photo had to be combined with the graphics and printed which takes about a minute each. I shot over 40 different groupings that had to be printed so there was not much room for error. Everything had to run smoothly, and luckily it did.

To ensure success, I had set up the portrait area an hour before the event. Scouting an area and pre-staging are the most important insurances that a photographer can give himself. Surprises cost time and and unwelcome anxiety. I enlisted the help of my friends above to check everything.

At the time that I was going to take the photos, the morning sun was blasting through the windows making bright pools of intense light in the portrait area. I try avoid situations like this as much as possible when making these kinds of quick portraits. The fastest fix was to pull the curtains and add a flash to evenly light the scene from camera left. I have found that curtains are my best friends when trying to tame extreme latitudes in exposure.

The little girls pictured above had just given the Grinch a present and I think it touched his cold green heart... just like in the book. Just a few minutes before this, the Grinch was trying to get the girls to join him by stealing Christmas presents... that rascal!

Photo by Melissa Witcher
No Dr. Seuss-themed event would be complete without green eggs and ham and a huge bowlful was available on the buffet.... They were pretty good! The food at the Melia Atlanta Hotel is top notch.

A special "thank you" goes out to Melissa Witcher who helped me by taking candid photos and setting up the event. Check her photography out on her web site at www.melissawitcher.com.