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 an article in the Los Angeles Times, James Rainey paints a gloomy picture for photographers and graphic artists. Perhaps he’s not saying anything we didn’t already know, but I’m kind of glad that I’m now at the back end of my career, rather than just starting out. This must be what it was like to be a portrait painter around the time of the invention of photography…as artist Paul Delaroche is (probably apocryphally) supposed to have said in 1839, on seeing a Daguerrotype, “From today painting is dead!” (a more balanced view of Delaroche’s opinion can be found here in Robert Leggat’s “History of Photography”.)
Painters at work, Melville Street, Hobart
I’ve been thinking about the subject of work at lot lately. Some would say I prefer to think about it rather than perform it. But it occurred to me there are still many jobs that can’t be computerised. These two painters painting the window frames of this old Georgian store in Melville Street Hobart this morning, can probably feel comfortable in the knowledge that their jobs are unlikely to be overtaken by the digital revolution, any time in the near future.
Camera: Canon Powershot G11
A POSTSCRIPT: driving past the day after, I see that the beautiful remnants of the words “Furnishing Warehouse” have now been sanded off the timber facade. Sad! But they still live on in this photo.
Many years ago, on assignment in Java for Garuda Indonesian Airways, I went to photograph silversmiths at Tom’s Silver in Jogjakarta. I saw a craftsman applying his skills to an aluminum hard hat. It seems that oil-rig workers commissioned them and, amongst others, Tom”s Silver had made them for a couple of US Presidents and at least one Pope.
I just had to have one!
After paying my $US50, spelling out my name in pencil on the back of an envelope, specifying that the design should include a Nikon and some Australian elements, I left the silversmiths to do their work. A month later the hard-hat arrived in the mail. It was fantastic! An incredible photographic artefact.
There were Australian plants, a kangaroo and an emu, flowers and animals embossed all over the hat and a map of the continent on the back, in the most flamboyant array imagineable. Of course, I only ever gathered up the nerve to wear it to parties and then only when drunk. Too Village People!
But then one day looking at it on a shelf in the studio, I came up with this promotional still life with two Nikons, I called, Industrial Self-portrait….
For the amusement of my friends here’s a shot of me modelling my chapeau:
What every well-dressed industrial photographer should wear...