March started off with C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Program), a national client I have been working with for over 5 years. This is an incredible program that offers underserved high-school students job training, internships and scholarships that have added up to over $43 million dollars in addition to the $3.8 million dollars worth of equipment they have supplied to public schools throughout the country since they were founded by Richard Grausman in 1990. Each year, C-CAP hosts several events across the country including a cooking competition that would make Bobby Flay break a sweat. The students pull out all the stops in preparing their dishes which are graded on taste and presentation by several local, top-notch chefs as well as the staff of C-CAP Chicago.
Next it was on to the The University of Chicago’s Court Theatre 60th Anniversary Gala where attendees participated in silent auctions, were treated to an array of performances from the Court’s most popular shows and enjoyed a 3-course, exquisite dinner at the beautiful Ritz Carlton in downtown Chicago. The elegant, black-tie affair raised more than $330,00 to support the Court’s artistic, education and outreach initiatives.
I was really excited when Kim at the OPUS Agency asked me to cover the Salesforce World Tour that would be coming into Chicago’s McCormick Place for a full day of training and demonstrations including a keynote by the Chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff. Benioff, has grown SalesForce into one of the top 10 software companies in the world and the company put on an an incredible show, engaging their audiences and executed the whole day flawlessly. And a side note, I broke my walking record that day….one kazillion steps which came out to over 11.8 miles!
Ulta Beauty, based in OakBrook, Illinois was holding it’s national General Managers’ Meeting at the Donald Stephens Convention Center and we were there to cover it. With a crew that I have worked with before including my pals Fritz, Miles, Whitney and Joe, we pulled together step and repeat group photos working in tandem to arrange, engage, shoot and get the next group in as quickly as possible. We also set up two additional large group photos featuring Gwyneth Paltrow front and center as well as covering the awards ceremony and dinner with Paul Mitchell.
The National Restaurant Association hosts a multi-day conference in Chicago and if you are in the business, it’s a must attend industry event. With over 44,000 attendees, hundreds of exhibitors, celebrity chef demos and so much sampling Costco would be amazed, this conference is really a restauranteur’s dream. My assignment was to follow along with the video team and shoot stills as they interviewed attendees about their favorite highlights from the show. Following this, I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing the NRA’s Keynote speaker and special guest, Arianna Huffington. Huffington is the co-founder and editor of the Huffington Post who also consistently makes her way into Forbes’ list of most influential women in the media.
Last but not least! Four full, very long and entertaining days with the awesome people of the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives for their annual conference over at the Hilton on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The conference was filled with training seminars packed with information about everything from best practices for hiring staff to implementing white-hat SEO for websites. There was plenty of opportunity for some peer-to-peer networking as well as a Keynote and after hours party with one of my favorite actors, Jeffrey Tambor. Tambor was a truly engaging speaker as he delivered a keynote speech that had the audience laughing one minute and choking back tears the next.
I have yet to tally the total the mileage I logged covering these conventions but I have since bought myself a Fitbit since I obsessively check my walking app so why not treat myself to an upgrade? Memorial Day has passed and spring is behind us so I can’t wait to see what awesome photo assignments summer brings with it and how many more miles I can cover!