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I was invited to attend a press conference at the SEMA show in Las Vegas this week. Apolo Anton Ohno, the most highly-decorated Winter Olympian in history was attending the public unveiling of his new custom 1964 Cadillac Deville convertible. There were dozens of photographers and several video crews at the press conference. The room was small and poorly lit. Typical conditions in the real world.
At these events, in order to get the shot you need to be patient. You also need a little luck. With lots of photographers jostling you for position, you may have trouble unless the people you work with are sensitive to the needs of their fellow photographers.
At this event, most of the photographers were working for the same shot. Fortunately, most were paying attention to their location and careful to avoid staying in the line of fire.
But at all these events, no matter where they are, when they are or who attends. No matter who the celebrities are or what they are doing, there are always a few people who will either simply be clueless or downright rude and boom – they’re constantly in your shot.
At this event, I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with several such photographers. One in particular, who is at most car-related events just casually walks into other people’s shots without care or concern. He got in front of my shots at the Indy Car race, the NHRA Nationals and yesterday, at the press conference. Along with a few new guys who I didn’t recognize, it was a real battle to get a clean path to the right shot.
When you find yourself in these situations, the first and least confrontational approach is to just wait patiently for others to get their shots. You can wait too long though and end up with nothing. Mr. Ohno wasn’t going to sit there all day waiting for me to take his picture. You can only wait so long.
At this event, I decided I wasn’t able to wait any longer so I firmly placed my hand on the shoulder of the guy who’s been walking in front of me for months and loudly said, “Excuse me!” It almost always works. In years of experience it’s worked about 90% of the time. I’ll leave it to you to decide how to deal with the other 10% – but don’t be afraid to assert yourself. Moments and opportunities pass. There will never be another time when Mr. Ohno unveils his new 64 Cadillac. Sometimes you just have to say “Excuse Me!”
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