One of our regular clients is the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS). For many years I have photographed their events, in the early days as a guest with a decent camera, but more recently as their 'official photographer'. The highlights of the SBNS year are the bi-annual conferences often held at prestigious locations over 3 days.
This year the venue for their conference was St Mary's Stadium - the home ground of Southampton Football Club. Comprising specialist lectures, seminars, the presentation of abstracts covering the very wide gamut of neurosurgical topics and a supplier exhibition the conference this year had the highest attendance I'd ever seen in excess of 300 delegates.
The photographic remit is straightforward: document the conference from set up to close down with one important set piece - the group photograph.
We had 20 minutes out of the busy schedule to assemble and photograph between 200 and 300 neurosurgeons. The obvious location was the stands with nice even rows of seats to be filled in. Pat and I descended to pitch side (with security on hand) 20 minutes ahead of shoot time to prepare. We took some test shots to determine how many heads we could fit in one row within the frame (I was using the Canon 24-105), to check the light and to get me up the ladder as some elevation was needed!
At 12:40 the stand started to fill and fill and fill. Pat wrangled the neurosurgeons into position "Some spaces over here", "No, not there please you'll be out of shot" and, after what seemed a lifetime, they were all in place.
I dispensed with "Cheese" replacing it with "Sub-arachnoid Haematoma" which did get a few laughs I must say!
Six or seven shots and all was done. Without a shadow of a doubt the preparation paid dividends.
Pat processed the shot, added the logos and text and, using my new Canon Pro 10, we had prints ready for sale with 1 hour.
I heard from a few people that they thought it was the best group photo many of them had seen for a long time and that is very nice to hear!
And here is the end result. I look forward to doing it all again in York in September for the Autumn conference.