Being a photographer opens doors to new and exciting experiences. This Best Buddies Miami Gala: Viva Italia was just one of those experiences. While I don't get too excited about famous people or event photography, this was surely an experience that was worth the time and effort it took to be a part of. As I have posted about Best Buddies before in my blog about the Polo Experience, this was a much more formal celebration of the work that Best Buddies does and the support that they receive from some of their largest monetary supporters.
So this was my second Best Buddies Event, my first major Gala. Again as I have written about before, I admit that Event Photography does not inspire me, but at this event there was a certain amount of allure with very expensive and rare auction items, very beautiful people, and ultimately being a part of serving a cause to help those that are less fortunate have greater opportunity and a better experience in life.
There was a certain aspect of this event that felt like a frenzy or a free for all that leaves me very grateful of the peace and solitude of other forms of photography like nature, landscape, and portraiture. While the event lasted well over 6 hours, the shots I am posting are a general overview about the locations, the happenings, some product sponsor shots, some posed portraits, spotlight speakers and presenters, some roaming entertainment, and finally a fashion show. There was a concert performance by LMFAO that I unfortunately had to bow out for because of a prior commitment to travel to see my fiancé early the next morning.
One of my assignments for the night was to cover sponsors of the event and sponser product placement, while my introduction to most of the sponsor representatives was overlooked, the representatives from Piaget that I did get to meet were warm, welcoming, and very appreciative of having a photographer there that was taking photos with them in mind. This was an undercurrent for the event coverage that I didn't mind. People wanted their pictures taken for the most part and wanted to be published in some form of online media which was refreshing.
I have had plenty of experience working in low-light conditions for both events and show-type performances to be completely at ease about the situations presented at this event, almost bothered that the coverage became a grind. I try my best to avoid this type of complacent coverage and see things differently and capture things differently. In that aspect of event coverage I can be challenged, and for that I can grow and seek self-improvement to be more creative in situations that I become complacent in.
The rarities of this event as far as the rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, rare and extravagant auction items, shooting a fashion show for the first time, and admiring the roaming entertainment were all great fun. There was a great energy here that was driving a great cause with compassion and heartfelt support. You got a sense that there were many people here supporting Best Buddies because they have experienced first hand the work that Best Buddies does throughout the world and they know and love buddies or have worked with buddies that have had a major impact on their own lives.
The purely inspirational moments for me at this event were hearing the first hand account of Charles Calhoun and watching as Anthony and Alina Shriver nurtured one of their young daughters Carolina to be so influential in the Best Buddies organization.
Charles spoke about how it was growing up with an intellectual and developmental disability and how it has been for him to succeed and dream in spite of the ignorant forces that oppose him. He spoke of his relationship with his mother and how he was so thankful for her love and support through such cruelty from his peers while growing up. He continued to speak about how Best Buddies has provided him with amazing opportunities for growth, leadership, and continued success through encouragement, support, and belief. Through their practical training and the generous support of donors Charles has become an inspirational leader and productive member of our global community.
Seeing Anthony, his wife Alina, and his daughter Carolina on stage was a genuine image of how this organization has been inspired, grown, and the seeds be sown into the younger generations. The torch of Best Buddies International will be past to strong, willing, and capable hands. As Alina Shriver announced her daughter as the future leader of Best Buddies and then watching Carolina speak in front of 100s of influential people about what she is working to do within Best Buddies was inspirational. Not only in her speech but also in how she carried herself throughout the night could you agree with Alina that her daughter will carry Best Buddies into the future.
I hope these images share the experience I had while covering this event for Best Buddies and that you would be so inclined to expand your mind about the realm of possibilities for all of us in our part to make this world a better place.