south by south woah i’m tired
April 11, 2012 Leave a comment
I applied to be a volunteer photographer for SXSW this year since it was my first year and it would be a chance to go for free (plus get some good practice in.) I applied last fall and I actually found out I was accepted on the same day I found out I was pregnant! Luckily, by March I wasn’t feeling so nauseous anymore, but it was still exhausting.
I rented a wide angle lens from a local camera store and I bought a monopod and a backpack to hold all my gear. Along with the external flash my husband gave me for my birthday, I think I had all the gear I needed. The only thing I was missing was more experience. But boy did I learn a lot that week. I ended up taking over 2,000 photos.
I photographed 5 full days in a row – 8am to 5pm. It was a lot of fun, exciting to see all the crowds, and I walked around a lot so it was good exercise. There were probably 100 or so photographers covering all events all week. I mostly covered Interactive panels, some Film panels and even a video game session. This involved getting to the rooms early, grabbing a spot in the front and floating around the room throughout the session. I felt pretty important with my press badge and volunteer t-shirt. When I wasn’t in an assigned session (I probably had 3 or 4 a day) I either rested, ate, walked around the trade show or sat in a panel for fun.
I got downtown early every morning to ensure I got a parking spot in the garage and then checked in with my crew chief at one of the hotels. I spent most of my time jumping between the Austin Convention Center and other area hotels. Most were walking distance, but a couple of times I took the free shuttle. Once, while it was raining, I hitched a ride on a rickshaw to get across town and left my umbrella in it. Ten mintues later, the rickshaw driver came into the hotel and found me to give me my umbrella back! I couldn’t believe how nice he was! That made my whole day.
The Austin Convention Center on the first morning started out relatively quiet and calm, but then by mid-morning it was a madhouse, especially with everyone was still needing to register and get their badges. I’m glad I got there early (I had to register for my badge like everyone else) because some people sat in the line all day.
I spent the first few hours walking around scoping out the joint before my first session.
There were these little cell phone lockers with chargers in them in case you needed to charge your phone without being able to babysit it. Brilliant!
My panel photos aren’t too exciting. They all kind of look like this:
DJ Spooky (yes that’s his name and he knows a lot about renewable energy):
The boys from Basketball Jones:
Bob Metcalfe (co-inventor of Ethernet and current Director of Innovation at UT):
One of my sessions covered a Star Wars video game. That one was interesting. There was a huge crowd of fans and the whole place was dark with lots of gaming and cosplay going on.
There were lots of video game stations set up where kids could play and even a live head-to-head competition event.
One afternoon I had some time to kill in between sessions so I walked through the trade show to look at all the booths and hopefully score some free t-shirts (I went home with 5.)
SPACE CAMP!! I always wanted to go to space camp as a kid. I guess visiting the space camp booth is as close as I’ll get.
Hey look Dad – I’m an astronaut!
Outside, these guys from Skype were trying to get me to crowd surf. Um no thanks.
I also had some time to squeeze in a few Film panels for fun. I saw Mark Mothersbaugh, Richard Linklater and Jimmy Fallon!
At the Jimmy Fallon session, I sat way in the back and had to stick my zoom lens between people’s heads. I was lucky to get one or two good shots!
Oh, and I managed to meet up with my old friend Judd Apatow. Well…we’re old friends now that I shook his hand and got my picture with him.
All in all, the week was exhausting, but a great experience. I had never seen so many iPhones and iPads in all my life. So if my baby ends up looking like an alien, I’ll know where all the radiation came from.