This festival always kicks my butt every year for the past 7 years. This year was no different. I get commentary from the universe ” Oh isn’t it SO FUN- you get to party the whole time and photograph celebrities.. wow. wow… wow”. Yes it can be that fun- usually for the filmmakers, A-listers,” famous people”, volunteers or the public enjoying the festival.
So I just want to burst that bubble right now. The festival is an insane intense experience. The days are LONG- 10-17 hrs a day for 10 days. You have to be on your A game too- during this time principles from “How to wind friends and influence people” are incorporated all day.
A typical day looks like- Hustling to each location in a blizzard up hill both ways carrying 50 lbs.’ of gear as well as getting on and off the bus 50 times. On any given day I have 4-8 assignments, which change at a moments notice. Between every 2-3 assignments I need to check in with the editors and caption every person I photograph. So out of the 300- 500 people I photograph daily I must caption THAT many people.
A month before Sundance- I lift weights, do conditioning and get my body ready to go. During, I take a ton of vitamins, make sure I rest, and Yoga if I have time. By the end I usually get sick.

While working the festival i day played on a Disney movie, which is equally as intense, but in different ways. The movie was Cloud 9 and its a teen snow boarding musical movie. It’s was a circus to work on. I hear they have a bunch of night shoots. Which is nice to not have to work on the mountain in -20 degrees at night. I always feel bad for the extras.

So Yes its a big experience. I am grateful for it. It’s a glimpse into this other world of people. That’s very interesting, socially heighten and politically ridiculous. This year I really tried to focus on taking more portraits. I love portraits and people are so interesting. I love working the music cafe – listening to music and shooting portraits. I also love working with first time filmmakers because its like peoples first wedding. They have this glow and excitement and are very nice to work with. Red carpets and high profile film premiers are nuts. Veterans of the festival experience have had their photos taken an insane amount of times from hundreds of photographers. These folks are not fans of photographers, which is fine I get it. I feel bad for the programmers of the festival like John Cooper, Trevor Groth, David Courier and the other programmers.

Music Café- Shooting awesome musicians like: The Head and the Heart, Eric Hutchinson, Melanie Fiona, Kenny Loggins, Jill Barber, Emily Wells ( WOW she is seriously amazing… new Pandora station! )
James Franco and Travis Mathews with “ Interior, Leather Bar” ,
Nice folks from “What they talk about when they talk about Love”
Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch with “Prince Avalanche”

A policy I have – is that I do not Pap anyone. This is a slang term used by photographer’s meaning- paparazzi. I am not a paparazzi and I will not pap anyone. So if I see an high profile person I just ask them if I can take their photo. If I cant ask them then I introduce myself later. I’m not the creepy photographer lurking to get you. Im the goofy looking girl with a smile here to make you look awesome.

Im very grateful for my assistants this year. Its no nice to have a buddy and the moral support to get through the festival. I also had alot of friends help me in other ways ☺
Special thanks to :
Gautam Altman, Darryl Dobson, Dowey, Ariane Borg, Stephen Wisely/ Heather Duke, Lisa Thompson, Brad Hunter, Stephen Pace, Lynn Decker, Alex Boyton, Troy Boman,Ruban Lah, Lainy McKay and Joel.

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Festival / Event Photography created by Natalie Cass
Author Natalie Cass

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Natalie Cass

Expert in her field with over 9 Yrs experience working in Advertising & Entertainment Photography. Connect with Natalie on Google+

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