From time-to-time it is the professional photographer’s lot to have to photograph conferences. Conference photography can be mind-numbingly boring work, but it helps if you can divert yourself with a bit of personal photography during the more tedious sessions.
I’ve just spent three days photographing the Jobs Australia annual conference at the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne. With speakers such as climate scientist, Dr Tim Flannery, futurist Professor Peter Ellyard, the ever thought provoking lecturer and writer, Waleed Aly, and the rapier wit of master of ceremonies, comedian, Rod Quantock, this conference was far from boring.
But to keep sharp and remain alert to picture opportunities, this is how I honed my eye, shooting these behind-the-scenes, personal observations:
Conference accreditation © Rob Walls 2010
Drink waiters at the MCG welcome reception © Rob Walls 2010
Between sessions delegates hammer their mobile phones in seemingly endless communication © Rob Walls 2010
Beneath a conservative exterior a guest speaker expresses his non-conformity through his flamboyant socks © Rob Walls 2010
Federation Square, on the way to the conference dinner © Rob Walls 2010
In the morning, I’m off to cross the Bass Strait again on second tour of the This Working Life project. This time my intention is to ramble through New South Wales going as far north as the Queensland border before heading west out to the opal mining town of Lightning Ridge. From there the plan is to begin to loop back in a south westerly direction through Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke before angling back towards Sydney.
The wonderful thing is that without a fixed itinerary, when I get to the mainland, I may decide to cover this ground in reverse. Haven’t made up my mind yet. Freedom! Such a luxury!
Rosemary Neill writing in The Australian has highlighted the idiotic restrictions that are being imposed on photographers in Australia.
I think it an interesting point she makes, that as television co-opts and commercialises their versions of “reality”, photographers are being restricted in their ability to document the world.
She writes: “
It is ironic that photographers feel under siege when voyeurism has been turned into a national pastime. Witness the enduring popularity of reality television, the celebrities who tweet compulsively about the most mundane details of their lives and ordinary individuals who post dozens of photographs of themselves on Facebook. Our multimedia society is arguably the most narcissistic and (superficially) self-revealing in history.
Yet, paradoxically, the rise of online and mobile media has also bred mistrust of professional photography and has entrenched ideas about the need to control images — and who makes money from them — whether the subject be a private citizen or a well-known landmark.”
Will there ever be a return to the days of photographic innocence? One can hope…but I doubt it.
This morning, I spent a very profitable hour looking at this multimedia coverage of women in Afghanistan by the Toronto Globe and Mail. The story Behind the Veil – an intimate journey into the lives of Kandahar’s women by staff reporter Jessica Leeder and freelance photojournalist, Paula Lerner, is an outstanding example of the use of new media.
For me this is the finest combination of reporting, photojournalism and video used in coverage of a single subject, I’ve yet seen. If this is not the future of photojournalism, it comes very damned close.
Take the time to to shut out distractions and work your way through this report. It’s fully worth the effort…