One of the best parts of Denver event photography is getting to go to swanky parties! When La Boheme opened at Opera Colorado, there was an opening night dinner at Kevin Taylor’s in the lower level of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. It was so much fun photographing this event. I loved seeing everyone in their best formal wear, ready to enjoy a classic opera! The same night, I also got to photograph the pre-show talk that was open to all the opera attendees. I love when companies include educational pieces like pre-show talks and Q&A’s. I think it really adds to the overall experience of seeing a show live.
Just a bit of a photo nerd out here. This was the first event I photographed with my new lighting setup. I had just bought three brand new flashes. light stands, umbrellas, and the little bits that go with it. This was the first event I was able to use it for after lots of playing around in my apartment. I was definitely still getting used to it and playing around with different setups for everything, but I love how the images turned out. I remember getting home that night and downloading the photos to my computer. It was so exciting to see what a difference the lights made and so proud of the images I created.
Kevin Taylor’s at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House is a really cool space, but it is very difficult to photograph. The ceiling looks like the night sky, with tiny spots of light throughout and there are some really cool paintings by Vance Kirkland. But the lighting is very low with weird spotlights and a low, dark ceiling. I used to dread photographing events in this space but my new lighting setup made it so much better.
This was such a fun event to photograph last year! Denver event photography brings me to so many new spots around the city and introduces me to so many fun things to do. The Whiskey and Doughnuts Festival is exactly what it sounds like, a day-long festival full of whiskey and doughnuts from local vendors across Denver and Colorado.
I loved seeing some of my favorite doughnut shops on display, like Habit Donut Dispensary. I don’t drink so I have no input on the whiskey selection but there were some really cool displays and a huge selection of distilled goodness. Last year’s event took place at Denver Rock Drill, a huge old warehouse on the north side of the city. The decorations of the event were bright, fun, and colorful (like donut sprinkles) so I felt right at home!
Each whiskey vendor was paired up with a doughnut vendor and together, they had to come up with a boozy doughnut to serve at the festival. Toward the end of my time shooting, in between sessions, I setup photos of each of the pairings. They were so fun and I loved how they turned out. I love that the festival used the photo above for the Facebook event this year. It’s always so exciting to see my photos being used for marketing. Seriously, it never gets old!
11 Creative, the company who puts on these events, just announced this year’s Whiskey and Doughnuts Festival! Tickets go on sale soon so if you want to go (and why wouldn’t you) get on their waitlist before they sell out. The festival will be in downtown Denver on May 18th, from 2pm to 9pm. The event also helps support, Minds Matter of Denver, a local non-profit that makes college dreams a reality for low-income high school students in the Denver area. Get your tickets here.
The coolest thing about Denver event photography is getting to be a part of awesome, important events. This one was a pretty incredible night. Opera Colorado had just opened their world premiere or Steal a Pencil For Me at the Mizel Arts and Cultural Center at the JCC in Denver. After the show, they held a reception for the biggest supporters of the new production along with the amazing cast and crew.
World premieres are always really exciting (this was Opera Colorado’s second since I’ve been involved) but this one hit close to home. Steal a Pencil For Me is primarily a love story, but it is also a Holocaust story and it is all based on real events. My family has their own Holocaust stories so these always stand out to me. The story revolves around a young man and young women who meet at the start of the war. Soon, they and their families are taken off to camps and forced to work for the Nazis. Through all the trauma, they manage to find hope in their love for each other.
Their story is told through letters they wrote to each other while they were in the concentration camps. At the reception were letters written to loved ones in response to the opera’s story. There were also plenty of drinks and food (and cake pops!) to go around. The room was buzzing with excitement after the show. Everyone was talking about how much they loved it. I’m so glad we were able to get a huge group photo with the cast and crew at the event as well!
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One of my favorite things about Denver event photography is that I get to learn. I get to be a bystander and ease drop of fascinating lectures, panel discussions, speeches, and presentations. While I work, I get to absorb information on all sorts of topics from urban planning to the future or battery storage. Sometimes, I’m introduced to a whole new industry and sometimes I get to learn more about something I’m already involved with.
When I started my internship at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2013, I knew nothing about opera. I still thought it was only for old people and I thought it must be so boring. After photographing numerous events surrounding and leading up to the opening nights of each show that season, I learned to love opera. It turned out I was just watching it wrong! I even wrote a whole blog post about how to watch opera so that you’ll enjoy it. What I learned is that the key to loving opera is learning about it. The more I know about the story and the production, before I watched it, the more I enjoyed it.
It’s the same way with Opera Colorado. They have so many events leading up to each show so that audiences can learn more about the piece before seeing it. When I photograph these events, I get to learn along with the audience and it gets me even more excited to see the shows! I love that this company has so many events around each production. I think it really increases audience engagement and creates a better experience for all audience members.
This event was a luncheon discussion hosted by the Lamont School of Music at the Newman Center. Cast and crew members from Opera Colorado’s production of La Boheme were there to discuss the production and answer questions. There were even a couple of Lamont opera students there to perform before the talk. I love all the collaboration that went into this event.
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I love Denver performing arts photography. It takes me to new places and gives me an insider look into really cool events and experiences. I love going all over the city for my job and discovering new things. When I photographed Opera Colorado‘s Sip and Sing last year, I got to go to the Preservery for the first time. It is such a cool space and it was a great location for this event. They also provided a three course meal that looked so good, each course paired with wine.
I’m not going to lie. This event was not easy to photograph. With Denver performing arts photography, I never use flash during a live performance. This can often mean I face difficult lighting situations that are completely outside of my control. I have to rely on the light available and outside of the traditional theater, it can be very hit or miss. The lighting at the Preservery is really cool. The space is filled with mismatched fixtures, Edison bulbs, and a wall of painted traffic signs. While the lighting looked really great, there was not a lot of it. It gave a wonderful, soft ambiance to the space but made photography difficult.
I can deal with low light though, I can thrive in these situations. The one thing I had never encountered before was the wall of signs. I collect signed like this and I think they’re really cool. Their job is to alert drivers of necessary information, day or night, and they do this by reflecting light. They are really good at this. That means that no matter what I did, the signs would hog all the light and reflect it on the backs of the singers’ heads. But through experimenting with my exposure and editing, I made it work and highlighted the singers as best I could.
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We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001. I was still young and I remember my 4th grade teacher telling us to sit on the carpet as one by one, my classmates got picked up by their parents. When my mom picked me up, she told me what happened. I could see the Sears Tower from my house and I was convinced that it would be the next target. I was also convinced that it would fall, from 2 miles away, onto our house. I made an emergency plan to hide under the coffee table in the basement. For years, I was scared every time a plane flew by the building. At that age, I wasn’t quite able to process the loss of life or the sacrifices the first responders and others made that day.
In college, my partner was a volunteer firefighter. Every Friday night, he would be on duty crew, waiting at the station for calls to come in. Even though most of his district was a college campus where the biggest calls were for dumpster fires or alarms because students forgot to put water in their Easy Mac, there was always the slight fear that something worse might happen. That he might not come home that night. That is the reality for so many family members of first responders, especially those in New York City in 2001.
Each year, around the county, firefighters come together on September 11th and converge on the tallest building in their city. In teams, they climb stairs equal to the number of floors in the World Trade Centers. In Denver, they climb 1801 California St, twice, in order to equal the height of the twin towers. Stations from all over the state were represented. Each one wears the name tag of a firefighter who lost their lives at Ground Zero. Some of them represent the same firefighter each year and maintain a relationship with their families.
I photographed the ceremony before the climb and then waited on the stairs for teams to come up. Once some of the teams had finished, I went out to the roof, which has some incredible views of the city. My favorite part of the day was when the news crews on the roof interviewed the first woman to finish the climb. I was so moved by how many women were participating. The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is such an important event and I’m so honored I could be a part of it.
If you have an Denver event coming up, let me know. I would love to be a part of it and document all the most important moments. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opera Colorado puts on a ton of awesome events to get kids excited about the opera. One of the biggest events they host is Family Day. On Family Day, kids and their parents come to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House to watch a show and do crafts relating to the story. The shows are all abridged, kid-friendly, English language versions of classic operas and there is a Q&A session after each show.
Family Day is a big event so I split it into two blogs. This show was the Elixir of Love. It a great show about love potions and conniving salesman and it has the perfect mix of humor and drama. The kids made their own elixirs of love and colored some root beer kegs. Part of this opera takes place in a bar so to make it kid friendly, the bar in this version only served root beer! The show was followed by a question and answer session and then the kids got to come up to look at the set and take pictures with the Young Artists. They loved playing with the costumes and props.
Opera Colorado’s season is officially over. That means the Young Artists are off on their own again, and the halls of the Ellie won’t be filled with singing voices for a while. I get to meet the new Young Artists in September and then the first opera of the season is in November. Next season brings another exciting line up of three unique operas! The season opens with La Bohème, the opera that inspired the Broadway musical and then movie, Rent. Then in January, there will be a world premier of Steal A Pencil for Me, a true story about two people who fall in love in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. The season will end with Falstaff, a tale of greed, seduction, and buffoonery.
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