Maria Mor

Storystick Event: Honeywell President’s Club 2019

This past month I had the pleasure of representing Ben Hicks, as lead photographer, at Honeywell President’s Club event in Miami. While Ben was in Ireland shooting another corporate event, I was holding down the fort in South Florida. I have to say having Julia as a second shooter was a huge support. The woman is irreplaceable.

Held in the Fountainbleau, Honeywell threw their annual event in honor of all the hard working executives. They were having a gala, award ceremony, and some added entertainment. 3 days in the Miami sun with good food, enjoyable activities, and plenty of relax time. What else could you ask for?

Storystick event Honeywell

The entire experience was a mixture of both pure fulfillment and pure exhaustion. For a total of 4 days I worked day and night to make sure this project was accomplished with as much grace, professionalism, and 100% client/attendee satisfaction. Over 300+ people were counting on these experiences to be accurately and happily documented, edited, and delivered. In other words, I knew very well that I had to show up no matter the circumstances.

Let’s be honest, with every job comes a level of pressure and desire to exceed all of the expectations. Shooting these types of events require quick strategic thinking and fast paced actions.  I have to be focused and aware in order to problem solve as quickly as unplanned scenarios present themselves. Most often than not, plenty of things are happening in a short period of time and it is my job to not miss one bit of it.

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Phone calls are always crucial in creating a client/photographer relationship. Communication is beyond important. Showing up on time, means arriving an hour early to set up and go over details. I can never be too safe when over packing gear. Better have more than I need, than missing pieces. Taking amazing photographs is only but a fraction of the job. The real work comes from managing logistics in an efficient manner and adhering to the timeline as quickly as possible.

Since external lights were required for two portions  of the event, I had to manage electric plugs, extension chords, correct positioning, accurate exposure, appropriate bouncing surfaces, and safety measure. They could be a liability if handled incorrectly. So like I mentioned before, the act of taking the photograph is only but a very small fraction of the job.

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Surroundings also play a big part in the overall photographic experience. Lighting changes very quickly from indoors  to outdoors, light to dark, and day to night. Regardless, the event still goes on. I have to be ready to readjust everything and anything at minute’s notice. This is where external flashes come in handy. Where there isn’t light, I must create it! Quality and time are of essence.

After all of the above is taken care of, now I can solemnly focus on the shooting portion of the program. Crowds vary throughout every gig.  Some people are quite open to taking photographs. In fact, they encourage them throughout the evenings. However, there are a few whose reluctance make my job very difficult. At this particular event, a few attendees avoided the camera at all cost. Putting myself in their shoes, I could understand the hesitation. I for one would not want to be bothered with a long lens throughout the entirety of my working vacation. Especially if I am with my beloved! Calling it a challenge would be an understatement. So I asked myself: “How can I deliver to the client when the subjects themselves are not available for photographs?”

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It dawned on me that my job was no longer the act of taking photographs, but the act of creating a safe space where people could invite me in. Less about the camera itself and more about the people and their experience. I approached each couple or group with a smile. Introduced myself and shook their hands. Always made eye contact with whomever I was speaking to and made sure to ask their permission when grabbing a quick shot. It is essential to observe to anticipate the desired expression. Always want to emphasis that I want their best angle! Those little actions made all the difference.

By the last day people from all around the world new my name and asked for photographs themselves. Those who had never felt comfortable in front of the camera, expressed that for the first time they were at ease. I even had a group thank me for the kindness I showed them. They took a selfie with me as a souvenir. Music from all corners of this Earth filled the outside courtyard. Tunes from India, Japan, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, England, United States, etc. People who spoke different languages, wore dynamic attire, and portrayed distinctive mannerisms all came together in dance. Trust me when I say that if I had not been working, I would have joined them as they requested!

The fact that I slept a total of 6 hours on those 4 days, spent 2 hours (home bound) in one lane traffic on I-95, and probably had very little time to eat mattered less and less as the project came to an end. The day I delivered the last batch of photographs for Ben to review I felt humbly proud of all that I accomplished as a photographer, artist, professional, and most significantly: A human being! Kindness does go a long long way.

~M

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