Usually a lot of work goes into planning a wild gathering of 28 people for a weekend of creative partying. When the party is populated by some of the hippest up-and-coming photographers in the business, art-directing the aftermath of the festivities is almost as much fun as the revelry itself.
This scene of apparent chaos was actually meticulously staged by Los Angeles photographers Ryan Schude and Lauren Randolph at the close of an annual two-day photo retreat called Phoot Camp in Calabasas, Calif. Over the course of 48 hours, while each of the attendees created their own photographic works, Schude and Randolph set about capturing the spirit of the gathering in two composite images: one of an out-of-control nighttime pool party, the other of the aftermath (seen here).
"We had planned this all weeks in advance," Schude says. "We told everybody what to wear and what props they needed to bring."
Because of the collaborative nature of the gathering, what should have taken days to arrange took only about four hours, from setup to breakdown. "It still boggles my mind how quickly the shoot went," Schude says. "With so many creative people helping out, it's amazing how fast you can work."
The image was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24mm lens, tied into a MacBook Pro. Schude estimates that the final image was made up of about six frames layered together. "We did it all in camera, with only a few elements composited, but we didn't bring in anything that was not in the room at the time," he adds. "We wanted to use mostly natural lighting, so there were only a few light packs on the sides that were bounced off the ceiling."
Phoot Camp is the brainchild of Laura Brunow Miner (LauraMiner.com), the founder of online photojournalism magazine Pictory (pictorymag.com). Launched in 2009, the invite-only gathering — a sort of micro Burning Man for the photography crowd — is held in different locations each year and includes workshops, portrait challenges and various forms of cooperative artistic expression.
Almost everyone who attended Phoot Camp 2010 is included in the image; Randolph is wearing the green bra in the lower right. But what about Schude? He would be the naked guy frolicking in the background, seen through the open doorway.
"After we staged everything, we realized we didn't have a spot for me," Schude explains. "So I just came up with this idea on the spot to run around on the lawn. It happened pretty organically." Just the way all good parties should.