A few weeks ago, I had an assignment to shoot at the San Francisco Global Climate Action Summit at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I’ve shot at the Moscone Center a few dozen times in the past, and the events there are inherently filled with energy and excitement, largely due to the number of people who attend and it’s location in downtown San Francisco.
More than 4000 people were invited to the event at the Moscone Center, and the main session hall was impressive. A large video screen, perhaps 150 feet across, served as the backdrop behind the stage, and on it played some incredibly well-produced videos and graphics. Featured guest speakers included Harrison Ford, Dave Matthews, Alec Baldwin, Michael Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown, SF Mayor London Breed, Michael Benihoff, Corporate leaders from Levi’s, McDonald’s and Walmart, and worldwide leaders such as the Mayor of Paris, just to name a few!
It was my job to capture each one of these speakers as best possible as well as get additional photos of the venue, sponsors, and attendees. While it’s always fun and exciting to be a part of events like this, I’m still there to do a job and capture the best photos possible for my clients. For some, it would be easy to focus on enjoying the moment; my focus always has to be on the assignment first and keeping my clients (and myself) happy with the outcome.
Having a press credential is essential – it allows me to get up close and personal and access areas that might otherwise be off-limits to regular attendees. At this event, I was able to move about freely in nearly all areas (there was a VIP area that was off-limits) and shoot from the front row of the hall, directly in front of the stage and podium. Having this pass doesn’t guarantee great photos however, just a place to shoot them from. Like the other photographers there, I still have to deal with difficult lighting and backgrounds, difficulty in moving around freely, and only one chance at each person to capture a great shot. Coming home without a great photo of each presenter is simply not an option – the client is counting on me to deliver, and I’m holding myself to a high bar as well to not only deliver the photos, but deliver the best photos that anyone takes at the event.
In the end, I came home with some great photos, the client was thrilled, and I had a great experience. Now it’s time to improve again and prepare for the next session, where hopefully I can do an even better job…