October 28-30, 2019 - South Carolina Manufacturing Conference & Expo

aka " How to photograph big events. "

It was my pleasure to photograph the “most significant Manufacturing Event of the Year” at the Charleston Area Convention Center in October 2019.

The conference kicked off with a private B2B Matchmaking Event where attendees could enjoy networking over adult beverages while a live band was present to entertain with sounds of the south including covers by Tom Petty and Bob Seger.

The kickoff breakfast on Tuesday did not disappoint as there were southern style homemade egg biscuits and coffee to be had all while every attendee had the privilege of hearing Mayor R. Keith Summey deliver the opening remarks for the entire conference. My priorities as the  photographer for a true highlight moment like this is to get in close to the star of the show and work my way out. The first photo I need is always the “hero shot” which is a nice tight crop from a bold angle, allowing the speaker to appear as distinguished as he actually is. After I get this I like to back up a little bit and get some photos showing the speaker from head to toe, while including even more of the branding and signage in the background. Next I back out a few more times including more and more of the crowd until I show the whole room. Finally toward the end of the talk I circle back to the front of the room. This is usually the time when the speaker really wants to leave the crowd on a positive note and may crack a joke or two. The audience is even more engaged and this is a great time to get some photos of the crowd laughing and also more expressive photos of the speaker.

The keynote presentations to follow included Presidents, General Managers, and Analysts alike of top manufacturing companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Ernst and Young, SC Ports Authority, and SC Technical College System. While balancing additional breakout sessions that coincide with the main speaker schedule, I have to pay careful attention to the clock to be sure not to miss taking photos of any key players. I always ask my client to help me highlight the “must have” speakers, even though I’m pretty good at guessing at this point. I always prioritize those first, often setting an alarm on my phone just to make sure I’m there early, and then jump around to the misc items after I’ve hit the priorities.

During the breakout sessions which were also known as “Training Courses,” I like to do my best to get more interactive photos with the crowd participating and asking questions. The more intimate sessions provide opportunities for more hands-on activities which help in telling the story of the whole show with finer details. For the convenience of my client, I always photograph the signage before going into a smaller session so that it’s easy for them to know who the pictures are of. These keynotes are not always quite as recognizable as those that are on the main stage. I try to include these thoughtful touches that may only take me 5 seconds, but will possibly save my clients lots of time.

As exciting as Day 1 is, Day 2 is where the last impression is made. For this conference there was a special “Salute to Manufacturing Awards Luncheon” that wrapped up another day of Keynotes and Training Sessions. I connected with my clients early in the day to be sure of any last minute details to know of before the awards began and the final very important speaker. Emphasis was to be placed on the final keynote speaker and the awardees with their awards. It was truly an honor to photograph Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina as the final keynote. He mentioned something about how he sees South Carolina not only being the friendliest state, but quickly making their way to the smartest and most innovative. After 2.5 days of seeing the best in the manufacturing business putting their heads together, I would very much agree with his opinion!

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