The Arnold Business Success Summit would make many event photographers squirm

The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition was full of eager guests waiting to see and hear the Austrian-American actor, filmmaker, businessman, investor, philanthropist, activist, politician, and former professional bodybuilder – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The event itself was a breeze to photograph. The lighting was bright and stationary, the people on stage weren’t moving from their chairs and as a photographer, had ability to move anywhere I needed to capture the images.

But then came 8:50pm, where special VIP guests were ushered to a back room to meet and have their photo taken with Arnold. “Get in da chopper” I said to myself and chuckled while doing final checks of the lighting gear for the media wall.

The client approaches me and says “You have ten minutes to photograph 100 people”. Gulp. Now, I’m no maths genius but that’s 10 people a minute that need to step in front of the media wall, look up and smile, keep their eyes open and move out in time to get the next person into position for their photo. This was going to be fast and furious, there was no room for error.

First shot was at 8:52pm. First person in, no handshakes, we don’t have time for that! Get in, look at the camera, go go go! I managed to click away 2 shutters per person in case they blinked in 1. There were no re-takes. All I remember, was flash flash, next, flash flash, next flash flash.

And as fast as it had start, it was over. The time was 9:01pm. I could feel the heat from the studio lights. In those 9 minutes, 118 images were captured and delivered without a single person blinking. I wipe the sweat from my brow and it was time to go home.

How do you prepare for such event photography scenarios?

As I had never covered this event before, I got there early and did a walkthrough with the client. Having worked at the MCEC many times before it’s easy to get lost so I made sure we had our security passes arranged.

Before the event started, studio lights were setup and tested with all settings ready to go. It was simply a plug and play setup as soon as Arnold got off the stage. The media wall had 1 camera designated to it and the second camera was ready nearby should he wonder away from the photo spot.

Preparation was key. Not only having cameras ready, but knowing which lenses, what light setup and also walking through the scenarios all comes down to years of experience.

Photos from the Arnold Business Success Summit photo gallery.