One of the really cool things about photographing for the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) is the wide variety of subjects that I have been fortunate to photograph. This has included acts like Ricky Martin and Juanes and event like the WWE and Harlem Globetrotters. On May 15, 2011 I got to photograph Joel Osteen as he presented his Night of Hope in San Diego. I am not going to address the subject matter with this blog post but instead discuss the logistics of shooting this type of event. Right off the bat I want to thank his staff for their professional behavior and relaxed attitude towards me, the lone photographer at the event. The rules were very simple, just don’t go in front of the front row and please be respectful of the event and the message. In other words, please act in a professional way. These are rules that I love and I wish everyone had this attitude.
Using an ISO of 1250 and f/2.8 I was able to shoot at shutter speeds over 1/400 of a second with the D3 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Using the sides and the aisles I managed to vary the angle of my shooting to capture a variety of different looks of what really was just a couple of people standing on the stage.
Being able to move around the whole venue enabled me to get overview shots of the venue and with the light spilling over to the front rows.
Now the tricky part of this shoot was that this was a religious meeting and while it was held at an arena it was really very much like shooting in a church. I needed to make sure that my presence was not a distraction to either the Osteens or the audience. This was particularly important during the later parts of the service. I stayed towards the back of the room and hid behind the camera crew so as to stay out-of-the-way. When the crowd rose to their feet I moved up the aisles and shot from a crouched position. I made sure to wear dark clothes so as not to stand out. I really hope that no one even noticed me.
This was definitely one of the more interesting shoots that I have done. It was great to have the access and to be treated not as the enemy but as a professional doing a job.