ABSA is the American Biological Safety Association. You have probably never heard of them unless you are in the biology field, but after four days photographing their 60th Annual Biological Safety Conference, I learned just how important the work they do is! I think I also finally figured out how to get around the maze that is the Albuquerque Convention Center!
Photographing the conference at the Albuquerque Convention Center started on a Sunday evening with a social event on a balcony covered in a very visually interesting zig-zag structure. The sunlight filtered through in unusual ways as I tried to stealthily move in the narrow space with two large cameras on my sides!
Most of the rest of the 4-day conference took place in a large hall connected to a vendor and dining space. I used this as a backdrop for several portraits of speakers and award recipients. No doubt which conference they are at with an entryway like that!
At the conference there were several events for learning more about various biological safety technologies, studies and research. For such serious matters, everyone was often laughing and the attendees were having quite the time. This makes it easier for me as an event photographer if I have smiles and laughter to capture in between the serious/academic times.
I had not been in the area of the Albuquerque Convention Center before that housed all the biosafety vendors. There were many large banners with beautiful photos showing off some place, feature or landmark of Albuquerque. I want to get a shot like that of the Rio Grand with the Sandia Mountains in the background myself!
More of the good humor on display here with this candid shot of all the board members of ABSA before I took a more formal group portrait of them all. Spending 4-days photographing them I got to talk with them and enjoy their comraderie too as they obviously enjoy with one another.
Things were fairly static and in their own time for photographing the conference, but it does not mean there were no photography challenges. The speaker's hall was dimly lit and had almost nothing good for a background. Luckily this opportunistic slide came up after this person received an honorary award. Shooting around the projector and teleprompter I was able to just get the speaker framed up with the slide as a background. Then there was just the matter of not overexposing the huge screen behind him!
In contrast, there were many good angles to photograph the speakers from while they were up on stage giving their talks on some rather interesting topics. I now know a whole heckuva lot more about how to be safe in a bio environment than I did before!
What do you do after a long day of browsing vendors, listening to speakers and networking with international colleagues? Well you get up and touch head, knees and toes of course!