Covering a Networking Event
I got the opportunity to cover a women’s networking event this week, and I learned a few things.
The event was to have a VIP autograph/photo session with the keynote speaker, Eddie George. Unfortunately, his plane was delayed which messed up the timing for this. The event planner decided to do the main program at the scheduled time, then do the VIP session afterwards.
I was already in the VIP suite, along with about 40 other people, preparing to take those photos when we got word about him being late. I hurried down to the main event, figuring I would get in some candids from the bar/food area before the program, which Angela was actually covering at the time while I was supposed to be upstairs.
When the event started, I we both took a bunch of photos of Eddie, as well as the audience.
I had to then be “on the move” as soon as he was done, to get up to the VIP suite, and the photo session. That’s where I really felt the most pressure. When I take a large number of photos of the event, I know the folks who “hired” me (It’s the place my wife works, I mostly do it as a favor for her.) will pick out one or two, and use them. For the VIP session though, you had one posed photo with Eddie, if I screwed it up, that was it. Your photo wouldn’t be very good. Luckily, all of the folks who didn’t bring their own camera and were solely relying on me getting a good photo of them with Eddie, turned out pretty well.
Here’s a couple of tips:
1. Be Flexible. When the schedule changed, everything changed. I had to stay later, I had to find a good spot to pose Eddie with folks, but still allow for people to line up and get in and out, in a different room than the one I had laid out before the program!
2. Divide and Conquer. Since Angela’s “working” of the event included taking photos, we could actually be in two places at once. Setting up the VIP session before the program, and then scooting to get the rescheduled VIP session, meant missing the pre-program candids, and also the end of the actual program. Angela could be there for those.
3. Using a zoom lens: In a large room, this event had 400 attendees, the indoor lighting is your worst enemy. Any photo you take with a zoom lens from a distance, is going to be noisy, and many times, have red-eye. You’re in a bit of a catch-22. In order to reduce the noise, you need to be close to the speaker, but you do not want to be a distraction to the people who paid to be there. It can be difficult. Communicate with the folks who hire you to do these events and get a feel for what side they want you to err on. I got fairly close to the side of the stage for the photo above. Luckily, Eddie turned in my direction, giving me a closer photo, without having to be in anyone’s way.
4. Hydrate. This is not something you’d think of, but let’s paint a picture here. I’m crammed in a hotel room, hustling to get photos in a crowd of 40-50 people, in the middle of an August heat wave. Twice, because of the rescheduling. The AC was cranked, but it’s still HOT in there. I sweat. I sweat so much that I had difficulty sleeping that night due to leg cramps from dehydration. It’s not easy to get a drink in the midst of it, but it’s worse to be kept awake and then try to hit your day job the next morning. Trust me on this!
All that being said, while it was a ton of work, it was also a great opportunity. Not only for getting some good photos, but hey, I got to meet Eddie George and spend some time chatting with him. That’s not bad.. 😉
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