If at all possible, I try to arrive a few minutes early to my photo assignments just to allow for the unexpected traffic, hard to find addresses or just to ask a few questions about an event before it starts. When I have an assignment for a performance or ceremony, I try to arrive an hour early. Often I have found that my best photographs from these events are of people preparing beforehand or backstage for a glimpse of the action behind the scenes during the production.
Recently I covered Groton's Dancing with the Stars event at Fitch High School. I arrived early and found most of the dancers were already prepared to step on stage so they were standing around visiting and talking about their nerves. As show time drew closer, I started to notice that occasionally dance partners would wander out into the hall and soon return. I took a look and found that some just seemed to be walking off the jitters, but a few couples took advantage of the short time left to practice their dance steps one more time. The photo of Principal Monica Franzone and her husband Joe Franzone in the school hallway was the type of photo I was hoping to find by arriving early.
As photographers, we want to take a photo that gives you a different view than you would have seen if you had been attending the event. This could mean a different angle, something away from the action or a moment behind the scenes. There was a nice turnout for the Groton event and those attending had no idea that just beyond a closed door as they were arrived and took their seats there was a show going on in the hall.
Take a look at the other images I've included with this post that I never would've gotten if I hadn't been unfashionably early.