Out 4 Undergrad Event

This past September, I got the opportunity to be the photographer at an undergraduate career event for LGBTQ  marketing students. The event took place in Chicago at the beautiful PepsiCo building. This was a nice scenery for me because there was a ton of natural light, vibrantly colored spaces, and an event that was sure to come across well on camera. The gal who hired me showed me some samples of things that she wanted and I got to work on her challenge.

Mission: Capture energy of the event and feature strong characters

Most of the high-energy events I have shot have been protests, weddings, and experiments (for St. Anthony Falls Laboratory): things that demand a lot of you but typically are inherently compelling to shoot. All you have to do is try to capture the moments right and have your settings in the right place and the action will just do the work for you.

This was an event where people were going to be doing a lot of sitting and listening to speakers, making small talk with random people, and walking around (not exactly easy things to make look exciting). 

I don't hunt but I sure felt like a predator for this event because the things that I mainly concentrated on were looking discreet, lying in wait, and taking my shot. 

1) Looking discreet: My wardrobe is typically some mix of white, black, and brown, but I went all black and plain for this working weekend to make sure that people would have to look for me to find me in a crowd.

2) Lying in wait: Countless times, I saw a shot but by the time I got the viewfinder up to my eye, it was gone. Suddenly all of my shots are the Moby Dick to my Ahab, elusive and unattainable. I learned pretty quickly to frame up my shot beforehand and wait a little while until something happened (ex. waiting by an employer's booth to capture a picture of shaking hands or smiling). If it did not happen again, I would move on and not waste my time.

3) Taking my shot: This was a three-day event so needless to say, I clicked my shutter well over 1,000 times. I wanted to be conservative though and not create an insurmountable amount of content to sort through during post production. I was careful to get my shot when I saw it but not take a crazy amount of photos because I messed the first one up. Quality; not quantity.

My results below were the best out of the 300 that I ended up submitting. I tried to capture the space in conjunction with the fabulously overachieving students that I met, and feel like I did a decent job! Sometimes the colors of the room and lighting threw me for a loop in post-production but I did my best to work with them and try to get the best white balance possible. A different camera with better color temperature settings would have been splendid but the best camera is the one you have. I worked with what I had and I feel good about it.


Sophie Hoover