Building Confidence, Showing Confidence

Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the Confidence Code, sponsored a program by the same name at the Hilton Baltimore this spring. Building confidence in young girls was an underlying theme. The American Business Journals, corporate parent of the Baltimore Business Journal hired me to be the conference photographer and I consider myself lucky to have gotten this job. Kay and Shipman assembled a stellar list of presenters so I was listening while I could throughout the day.

The Confidence Code examines ways our culture robs girls of their confidence starting in middle school. Appropriately, the program drew an audience comprised primarily of middle and high school girls and many of them attended with their moms.

Successful Keynotes and Panelists
In addition to Kay and Shipman, the keynote speakers included an all star cast including Morning Joe Co-host Miki Brzezinski, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, and Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John. Other inspirational keynote speakers were, New York Times best selling author Rachel Simmons (Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence), and co-founder of Girls Leadership. Susannah Wellford, founder of Running Start, a nonprofit that encourages and trains young women to run for political office. Since its founding in 2007, Running Start has worked with more than 10,000 women aspiring to one day either hold political office or help others attain it.

The break out sessions featured such high achievers as Dr.Redonda Miller, CEO, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the first woman CEO in Hopkins’ history and Ingrid Vaughan, vice president of Manufacturing, Northrop Grumman. Other women panelists came from such companies and institutions as Google, Instagram, PwC, T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley, Harvard and Cornell Universities.

Photography Goals
My goal was to take images that would show the “energy or vibe” of the day — the camaraderie between the speakers and panelists and their confidence. Doing this combines stealth, luck, experience, the right equipment, and quiet, comfortable shoes.

Hockey fans say that what made Wayne Gretzky great was his ability to anticipate where the puck would be and to skate to that spot. Successfully photographing an event requires anticipating where you think the action will be, then being ready to snap the photo when it occurs. I’ll watch a speaker and study their gestures then wait for that moment that captures his or her motions and emotions. I am also scanning the audience looking for individuals with expressions that show their reaction to the speaker.
Also, as much as one can be invisible when he is obviously poised to shoot with two cameras, I do my best not to be noticed. I get close to speakers when I need to and I try to stay out of the way the other time.

Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman speak at the Confidence Code conferenceTools
Finally, I always photograph an event with two cameras so I can have a different lens on each one.This enables me to save time by not having to switch lenses and to get images with different perspectives. Typically, I’ll use a 70-200 lens for close-ups and 20-120 lens for wide angle audience photos because getting good shots at a conference requires confidence and luck.