In June, Walmart held it’s annual Shareholder Meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with events scattered in Bentonville and Rogers. I have covered this event for over ten years now for media outlets, but this was the first year I shot solely for Wal-Mart. I really look forward to this week of work every year. It’s so much fun to see the international associates explore our corner of Arkansas, and feel the energy that they bring during their travels. While I don’t have the actual photos to post, I’ve created links to the Wal-Mart Corporate Flikr account so you can view some of my images… of you can go to this link to look through all of them. Wal-Mart Shareholder Photography.
Spencer Tirey, Wesley Hitt and I work together seamlessly to cover events during the week including tours of the home office, distribution center and 5&10 as well as international and US associate meetings . Our biggest event is the shareholder meeting on Friday morning. It starts early (5:30 a.m. call time for us), but is always packed with entertainment in between executive speeches. This year’s emcee was Hugh Jackmon. Other guests included Tom Cruise, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend. It’s important for us to photograph these celebrities, but it’s more important to take dynamic images of the executives, the Waltons and the associates. The images we shoot are used throughout the year, and throughout the world, so we always try to make sure everyone looks their best.
There’s always so much running through my mind while shooting, and here are some examples:
- It changes constantly so I have to look for the subtle changes in the stage lights and adapt my exposure to compensate.
- I want the light to compliment my subject and not make undesirable features stand out. I am always waiting for a person to turn toward a light, so that they look their best.
- I like logo placement in my images. These images are going to be used for years and I think it’s great that viewers don’t have to read a cutline to figure out where a photo was taken, or the company a person works for. All of the information is in the photo!
- I also look to use stage lights to add interest to the background of my images, add a little color or add mood. This usually only works when the performers are on stage.
2. People –
- I am always looking for nice images of the executives whether they are watching the meeting and smiling, or interacting with an associate. I am grateful that over the years I have a mental catalog of those top executives that are currently working for Wal-Mart, or have worked for them in the past. Although it’s good to know people, sometimes it just comes down to shooting everything… and luck. This year I photographed a woman dancing with an associate from Canada and I later found out it was Walmart Canada CEO Shelley Broader. Right time, Right place!
- I like action in my images or strong body language and sometimes this requires patience in waiting for the right moment and watching for movement. Sometimes that small hand motion activates an otherwise boring photo. I love the powerful stance in this image of Jim Walton.
- I am also looking for those things that just happen. They are different every year and I never know what to look for, but these are the images that add flavor. The overjoyed associates, the funny executive, the iPhone in the crowd shot or the beachball with perfect logo placement.
5. Speed and Efficiency
- I usually shoot in RAW, but I shot JPEG for this event because of the quick turnaround that is required. This year we were able to get images to the Walmart team so efficiently that they were able to tweet out images before the performer was off the stage!
- Because of the speed of our turnaround time, I had to be extra cautious not to make mistakes. I had to really watch my focus and exposure, and think quickly to compose those dynamic images when the speaker first took the stage.
We were happy with our overall “package” of images from the Walmart Shareholder Meeting. Each year brings something new and we have to step up our game. Hopefully we will shoot again next year, and I look forward to whatever creative ideas we come up with!