Photographing RubyConf 2008

The Keynote Audience

RubyConf 2008 took place right here in Orlando, Florida, and I was lucky enough not just to attend, but to be able to photograph the conference in a somewhat official capacity.

You can see the full photoset here.

A First

This was my first time shooting a conference. Running around with my camera on a nice monopod, snapping photos of speakers and people in the audience and the hallways, thinking more about lighting, white balance, and bokeh than the topic being discussed on stage – what a different and exciting experience.

David Koontz

It gave me a whole new level of respect for the people who take photographs for a living. We all know how talented my friend (and photography mentor) James Duncan Davidson is, but until you’ve actually tried to do, for a few hours, what he does every single day, you probably can’t appreciate how challenging – and how much fun – his job is. Getting good pictures in consistently bad lighting, finding that angle that really frames the speaker, capturing the vibe in the audience, experiencing the buzz you feel knowing that you’ve got just that one chance to make the shot, and even carrying such heavy kit around, gives you a sense of the world the pros live in every day. Needless to say, it was a great time.

Even better, I learned more running around the conference floor with the camera in my hand than I’ve learned in the last few years of taking pictures of my family, friends, and the locations we’ve visited. It’s a completely different world, and it’s a lot of fun.

Another First

Although I’ve been to RailsConf every year since it started, I’d never attended a RubyConf before, and I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. I’d heard that it was more laid back when compared to the buzz and frenetic energy of RailsConf, and I found this to be very true. The vibe is very down to earth. The talks were solid and the audience was just there to learn and share what they know. It felt like you could take time to have conversations with people, and the talks felt wide open with room to breathe, instead of coming across as rushed or time-crunched.

The Hall

Of course, the best part of a conference like this is connecting with the people you’re only used to talking with via email, IM, or using Twitter. Just chatting with your friends in person makes for a great change and reinforces friendships in an intangible but substantial way.

I’m already looking forward to next year.

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