It had been a long three days, with early starts, late finishes, and evening events. Exciting to be there, but also exhausting. And tonight being the last night, only a half-day to come, it will be a big celebration, a gala dinner, dressing up, everyone looking their best. It is a happy break from the routine of work, a chance to meet colleagues that many only ever got to talk to on conference calls or perhaps email. The work essentially done, now is a time to enjoy. But then suddenly, unexpectedly, one person, a delegate, formerly a guest, a part of the audience, is for a brief magic moment of recognition, projected into being: The Show.
There is a certain ritual to an awards ceremony, that pausing for the photographer’s flash, a handshake, a hand over of a trophy or plaque perhaps, and for a brief moment all eyes are on the rewarded, before they vanish back offstage and back into the anonymity of the audience, hastily making way for the next. And the next. Yet every so often there something very special in this moment. The picture is so much more than just what press photographers would call ‘a grip and grin’. And if you can capture that, it becomes one of the great moments of the conference week. When the Top Man reaches out to someone in the team, every so often the formality of the presentation breaks, and if you are lucky and quick, you can capture a very special instant.
I’m always amazed, and pleased, that sometimes some years after an event I photographed, I can be on a visit to an office, somewhere, perhaps far from the corporate headquarters, and I see on a desk a picture, sometimes framed, sometimes just stuck with blue tack on a divider between desks, that moment of recognition from a week that had been doubtless long hours, hard work, rewarding in parts, but great fun to cover as a photographer.