Conservative Party Conference 2018

For five days last week I was down in Birmingham at the International Convention Centre covering the annual Conservative Party Conference. The days are long and it’s a hard and challenging few days shooting pictures that will hopefully give a good overview on the conference.

Along with trying to get pictures of the main political players as they are ushered through the venue with various levels of security and PR handlers as they attend TV interviews or meetings you also need to keep an eye on other things that are taking place. Fringe meetings, key arrivals, well known visitors who might be attending or just general scenes of the place and the people that will all add to the broader coverage of the event.

Then of course you have the conference speeches. They are challenging enough as it is with generally bad lighting photographically speaking, but then add in restrictions on where you can and can’t go which are always highlighted on the floor of the main auditorium by white tape. Then you add the fact you have to keep low to avoid blocking the view of the audience  so you spend much of the time crawling and crouching around on your knees in front of the stage as you carry all your camera gear. At the same time you’re also trying to move into a position that might make a good angle and work the whole conference hall so you get pictures from as many different angles and distances from stage as possible then it all becomes even more challenging. Especially when there are 40-50 other photographers and video cameramen all trying to do the same at key speeches.

It can be both rewarding and frustrating in equal measures. Sometimes you find a good spot and all the factors come together. A good position, good angle, decent animation from the subject, eye-line, a clear view, right lens choice and it’ll work. Often times some of those variables don’t come together and the shoot isn’t as good or indeed it’s just a crap picture.

Sometimes…you get lucky and things work out. Or they don’t. But you keep cracking on anyway.

But despite the challenges, despite the aching knees from crawling about on the carpet down in front of the main stage or the aching shoulders from carrying all the kit, despite surviving most of the days on coffee and an occasional quick bite. Despite spending half the time on the conference floor sweating your arse off I still quite enjoy it – from a photographic and obviously twisted stand point anyway.

When you can get a good picture then of course you’re happy. It something gets published then that’s good too although often times you think you have a good picture and then see how someone else covered the same event and then you basically swear at yourself a lot, wonder why you didn’t think of that particular angle or that particular way of doing it, swear a bit more, drink some coffee and then wander off, swearing at yourself some more, and try and do better with what comes next.

So as conference season comes to a close (you can see my Labour Conference coverage HERE ) here are a few from the trip down to Birmingham…

Images (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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