Say what you will about a certain internet marketing firm; they put on one hell of a show. That became evident the moment I wandered into the Greensboro Coliseum last week, longtime sight of their annual - ahem - convention. No sooner had my eyes adjusted from the blazing sun than a giant tower of white hot sparks shot upward from a stanchion hidden behind me. “Holy $#&%!”, I thought as my vision recovered from the pyrotechnic hit. Before I could fully regain my focus, I heard them: thousands upon thousands of shrieking distributors, all caught up in the clamor and glamour of this Mother of all Sales Rallies. Spotlights swung this way and that as what can only be described as a Power Couple strode out on the main stage. With a stack of speakers to my left and a coliseum full of mail-order supplicants in mid-genuflect to my right, I couldn’t understand a damn word the power couple said, but that didn’t stop the masses from executing back-flips over every distorted syllable. “Man”, I thought as I placed my fancycam atop its tripod, “I haven’t seen this kind of energy in here since Chris Daughtry busted out a little Bon Jovi at that American Idol tour stop a few years back. Oh well...”
Never one to let manufactured pandemonium get the best of me, I leaned into my viewfinder and began collecting the dozen shots I needed to prove I ’d been here in the first place. As I did, another pyro hit lit up the Coliseum from floor to rafters and I got a fleeting look at the crowd all around me. Many in the audience were Asian and wearing t-shirts featuring homemade slogans. I made a mental note to ask the PR flack why that was and began scanning the masses for faces frozen in semi-spiritual bliss. It didn’t take long, especially with the lady on stage ratcheting up the room with her own nearly intelligible shrieks. Watching her sales pitch make my audio needles dance, I looked around and repeated a phrase I’ve been saying since junior high school. Back then, I’d slump in my jean-jacket as the teacher droned on about some upcoming assignment and think to myself, “I’m sure glad this doesn’t apply to me.” As a mid-pubescent scholar, it was never a wise tactic. As a full grown photog, it’s served me well.
That’s when I saw him. Clad in all black, fancycam at parade rest, the on-stage shooter surveyed the spasmodic masses with a practiced lack of regard. I tried myself to get his attention, but was unable to pierce through his thousand yard stare. So I admired it. See, I’ve been on-stage enough to know you never lock eyes with an individual, lest you be forced to reveal any emotion other than lust for the next close-up. Besides, you don’t keep your spot on the lip of some corporate orgy by letting locals like me distract you. No, that would be unprofessional. You’re far better off keeping your eyes moving and your ears glued to the director’s voice in your headset. How else you gonna be ready when the production truck crew punches your shot up in the giant Jumbo-Tron? No one wants to watch unfocused kneecaps on a screen three stories tall. So instead of bothering my lenslinging elder, I popped off a few more shots before heading for the exit ramp, hoping to escape before another pyro hit lit up my goatee. Walking out, I thought I caught sight of the photog taking me in. Then I realized he was merely scanning faces, and thanking his maker that none of this silliness applied to him either.
Can’t say I blame him.