Chain Saw Chain: Conference Photography

Shooting conferences is a job I relish. It’s full of challenges and compromises that have to be made and every job you do, you learn something. The Stihl National Conference in Dunedin was pretty typical. Think chainsaws, mowers, brush cutters and the 200 or so people who sell and service them.

Catching up with old friends

Day 1 was for registration and team building games. Serious run-and-gun shooting, looking for happy moments when friends catch up with each other, capturing action and memories. Just occasionally do you get the opportunity to intervene and get someone to smile for the camera. I mostly try to use bounce flash if the interior ambient light is low. Outside, I might use a little fill flash, but sometimes not.

Your coaches

The teams from Stihl entered Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr stadium for some challenges, led by Coach Richard and Coach Doug, aka Danny and Doug from DKCM.

Team talk
The assembly line
Fierce competition
The payoff – bikes for little buddies

Lots of fun and action to capture, but the best bit came at the end. What the good Stihl dealers didn’t know was that their final challenge – assembling a mountain bike – was all for the benefit of a group of kids in Presbyterian Support’s Buddy program. When the kids ran out to see their bikes, it brought a lump to more than a few throats, I can tell you.

From the rugby paddock we went up to one of the lounges for dinner, prizegiving and partying. Non-stop action, with the chance to drag a few couples outside for a lasting memory of their visit to our beautiful covered stadium. I love how Stihl prides itself on being a family company and those family values definitely drive the management of the organisation. Dealerships are a family affair where partners and family are part of the business, not just add-ons.

Spot the proud Southern Stihl dealer
Listen to this man if you want to win

Day two kicked off with an inspiring motivational talk from All Black motivational guru Gilbert Enoka. Best motivational speaker I have ever seen, and I’ve shot one or two.

The new chainsaw
Chainsaws are not just boys toys.
Electric mowers = quiet neighbourhoods.

Then came the serious fun, a hands-on session with the latest Stihl products. All I have to say is, I now want a fuel injected 20 inch chainsaw and electric lawn mower.

A pre-dinner performance from Norma, the Town Hall pipe Organ

Then followed a big night at their awards ceremony and gala dinner. More light challenges, although the low white ceiling in the Town Hall atrium is my favourite spot to get happy candids and quick posed groups by bouncing a little flash.

My competition. What you don’t see is the ten blokes behind me lifting their kilts.
Head office staff. Check out that beautiful ceiling.

Delivery of the pictures had to be by 0830 every morning, so processing made for some very late nights. But as always, it sure beats working.

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