TEDxGrandRapids 2014

Chuck Heiney shooting from the Peanut Gallery

If it was 2013, I would have said no to photographing an event.  In the past, I've just hated being around so many people, but this has been the year of busting out.  It was a privilege to get to work with so many amazing speakers, photographers, and videographers – after all, there's only so much you can do from home.  

I believe I may have been one of the more inexperienced people on the team when it came to event photography, but I was given a few chances to try new things by the photo team leader, Tom Wagner.  I was teamed up with Aaron Bannasch to set up time lapse GoPro's in a few locations; one of them being in the crow's nest overlooking the audience.  While I try not to show it, I have a fear of heights because my depth perception is terrible.  I nearly fell off the balcony while checking one of the GoPros (but don't tell anyone that).  By the second day of working in the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, I felt pretty comfortable being up high, so much so that I volunteered to take pictures from the "Peanut Gallery".  I felt great getting over my anxiety of high places.  

Dropping your camera from here would result in instant death of the poor fellow below. #NeckstrapsSaveLives

Perhaps it was Wayne Curtis's speech that made me thirsty for a drink.

By six o'clock, pretty much all of us were exhausted.  I could tell I was shooting the same pictures again and again, so it was time to give it a rest.  I sat down in the green room and watched the last speaker wrap up on the television.  It was amusing to see how all the speakers were just as whipped as I was by that time.

I was only able to sit for about fifteen minutes before they called for the volunteer leaders to come forward.  Immediately, I rushed to the balcony as I saw other photographers getting ready to leave for the Grand Rapids Art Museum.  Luckily, I travel light, so I took the last shots of the volunteers on stage and sped over to the GRAM.  It was a good thing because I beat the crowd and got a few shots before people started filing in. 

Just add 500 people, and you'll get the picture.

It was intense as 500 people filled the lobby, courtyard, and bar of the GRAM.  Still, I'm glad I pursued the shots as I got to congratulate Doug Fitch on his entertaining speech (especially his laugh out loud ending of nonchalantly walking off after being told he's out of time).  He was an amusing conversationist to say the least.  Really, all of the speakers were genuinely friendly people – that's probably why TED is so popular.

That and Donald Kinsey from The Wailers played music periodically throughout the event.

To see more of my photos from TEDxGrandRapids, visit Flickr.  All photos are Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND).  Feel free to publish any shots from TEDxGR on my Flickr.