Posted by: Michelle Stella Riordan | September 15, 2011

It’s Duck Season…It’s Wabbit Season…

 It’s Duck Season…It’s Wabbit Season…


It’s Convention Season…


But there’s nothing conventional about it.  No two conventions were created equal.  And what the heck am I talking about????

This is the time of year when many businesses, corporations or specialty shows have a trade show with a side of break out sessions and cocktail hour.  I have covered conventions from the cosmetic industry (CTFA) to realtors to CPAs and beyond.  No industry is immune to the seminar circuit.  Even photographers have trade shows.  Though it seems to be a contest about who can carry the most gear the longest without collapsing.  But, that’s not important right now. 

Bidding on a corporate convention is a task unto itself.  You have to consider the hours of standing & walking on concrete floors for hours.  I enjoy it simply for the fact that there’s always food and drink.  Many of the tradeshow booths like to give me Tchotchkes  (pronounced /ˈtʃɒtʃki/ choch-kee)

 “Tchotchkes are small toys, gewgaws, knickknacks, baubles, lagniappes, trinkets, or kitsch. The term has a connotation of worthlessness or disposability, as well as tackiness,[1][2] and has long been used by Jewish-Americans and in the regional speech of New York City.

The word may also refer to swag, in the sense of the logo pens, key rings, and other promotional freebies dispensed at trade shows, conventions, and similar large events. Also, stores that sell cheap souvenirs in tourist areas like Times Square, Venice Beach, and Waikiki Beach in Hawaii are sometimes called “tchotchke shops.” – Wikipedia

I always end up with a new pen or a sharpie!  Love my Sharpies. 

I am getting to the photography part. 

So, shooting in large cavernous dark rooms with dark drapes while they’re running a Powerpoint presentation can make it quite challenging, if not painful, to photograph.  I have a job to do but am very respectful to the presenter and the attendees.  Most of these people pay good money to attend these seminars so they don’t want to be distracted too much.  Most people on the other hand understand that  we are there to capture this presentation and expect some the photography to be going on around. Have I mentioned that communication is vital throughout the process?  I know most of my venues but when I have never photographed in a particular area, I strive to scope it out ahead of time.  This gives me an idea of what to do for lighting.  

Special Event Photographer

It’s not every day you get to photograph a Blue Angel pilot: John Foley-Trump Taj Mahal

 I make it a point to meet the speakers ahead of time so that they know who I am and ask them if there is a specific time or part of the presentation to keep a look out for.  People appreciate being asked.  Most will tell you to shoot away but some will be very specific.  I had an amazing motivational speaker give me the ok to come up on stage to photograph the audience during his presentation.  Loved him.  It makes both of our jobs easier.  I get great photos for my client and great PR photos for the speaker.  It’s a win-win. 


Special Event Photographer

It’s a plus to have window light in large, open areas. Hylton Performing Arts Center

A big challenge after all is said and done is how you’re allowing the client to view the images.  These days everyone wants everything without paying for it.  They want the rights to the images but only you can say what your time is worth.  For every hour I spend photographing, I spend about 2 hours editing.  And I NEVER RELEASE MY RAW FILES.  I never sold my negatives.  I allow usage or license my images for media work.  There are some great articles about photographic licensing and usage on PPA-Professional Photographer’s Association and ASMP-American Society of Media Professionals sites.  Take the time to read it whether you are the photographer or the publication buyer.  All of you are getting paid by the hour to work.  We have to as well and the job  doesn’t end for us when we turn off the lights.  My 2.3 cents…..


Special Events Photographer

 Frank Abagnale Jr-Catch Me if You Can – Bally’s Atlantic City

I learned a lot about Frank Abagnale Jr by photographing this convention.  He got away with some amazing things but has spent the rest of his life doing the right thing.  That is amazing in itself. 

Do you know anyone in need of a great photographer for their convention? 


Michelle Stella Riordan

Photography By Exposure

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Special Events Photographer

Corporate, Aerials, Conventions, Portfolios & Family Photography

Studio and Location: New Jersey to Virginia

Sunrise & Sunset Family Beach Portrait Sessions


Special Events Photographer


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