Mary Pope shares her daughter Sam’s passing with Poly High seniors

Mary Pope waits to be introduced on stage at Poly High's Arthur Littleworth Theater

Addressing an auditorium of high school seniors is no easy task.

I know this because I barely have what it takes to stand in front of 20 odd people in my photography classes.

My dear friend Mary Pope made it look easy as she addressed two groups of seniors inside Riverside’s Poly High school’s Arthur Littleworth Theater this morning.

She established audience participation quite effortlessly by suggesting everyone stand.

Then she asked everyone present to offer this greeting to their neighbor to the front and behind: “Peace Be With You

Mary is new to this but she embraces her nervousness so well that her wonderful upbeat personality takes over.

At one point, a very considerate young man even yelled out a word of encouragement when Mary lost her train of thought.

Mary's makeshift "beachfront-in-a-tupperware" helps her relax as she stands bare-footed inside as she speaks.

Standing barefooted on the sand of her makeshift ‘little-beach-front-in-a-tupperware,” Mary reassures everyone her talk isn’t going to be about kitty litter, bringing laughter all around.

As I stood listening I wish the circumstances as to why she finds herself speaking to young college-age kids were different.

Losing a child is never ever easy but Mary looks to have found some consolation as she shares Samantha’s  passing.

The reason for my presence

I was there to document Mary speaking before 2 groups of seniors.

Over the years, while at the newspaper, I have done my share of these drug awareness talks, so I thought.

This was different. This time, I knew the speaker personally.

Can’t focus when your own eyes tear up.

Stage lights and house lights of different color temperatures always present a challenge.

Pointing your lens at the speaker and you’ll see she is lit by stage lights.

Then when you look for pictures amongst the audience, it’s different.

They are lit by house lights.

So what about the zone in-between?

Then there is the occasional opening of an exterior door to the bright sunlight outside.

If ever there was a time to shoot RAW, this was it.

The light levels inside the theater was typical–ISO 800 1/25sec @ f2.8.

Even though I brought my Canon 5DM2, I shot mostly with my Canon 40D and my usual 2 lenses: 17-35 f2.8 and 80-200 f2.8

The 5DMark2 is slow when shooting RAW, that’s why.

Forget burst rates.

Whatever low-light image quality you gain, you will lose in missing moments because of its 3 frames-a-second drive mode.



Mary Pope speaking to Poly High senior about the dangers of skittle parties. March 20, 2012

If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you will know I primarily use 3 lenses.

For the closeup of faces, I used the longer zoom wide open on a monopod.

Flash is usually a no-no during these sort of events not because anyone would mind.

It’s just very disruptive and ruins whatever ambience or ‘feel’.

Also, when you blast away with flash, you draw attention to your presence.

You forfeit spontaneity every time your flash fires.

But if all you’ve got is a slow lens and a body with horrible low light capability, then you have no choice but to use that flash.

In case you missed my previous post, read about portraits and what they can mean to someone

Mary, you did a wonderful job. The kids loved you. So many stayed behind to give you a hug and to thank you for sharing your memory of Sam.
Peter Phun Photography

Promote Your Page Too