The Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration Symposium

Earlier this week, I had the rather interesting opportunity to photograph the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration symposium in Sydney. For those wondering what that means, I borrowed a little definition from their website:

So basically, it’s an annual meeting of different medical, research and government groups that aim to improve the experiences of Australians in palliative care and those that it somehow impacts (i.e. carers and family members).

For me, it was a first in a few ways. A first, considering I didn’t know these things existed and that it involved a very particular kind of commercial photography. It was one of the few times I was really out of my depth in terms of the subject. Needless to say, I am in no way medically educated or certified (outside of my First Aid certifications, of course). The day was filled to the brim with uncharted experiences.

In any case, I took the liberty of writing a short diary entry about this rather hectic job. So, enjoy!

Monday 28th November

5.00 pm

About half an hour ago, I got the news that I’ve been booked for another inspiring project, and I’ve also got a handful of fun portrait sessions booked this week. I’m trying to reframe any feelings of nerves or imposter syndrome feelings to excitement. So I figure I better have a breather and jot all this down.

So, in October, a staff member at UOW put out a call for a student photographer to have the opportunity to shoot this conference, and a friend sent me the referral. I don’t think they specified what the event was, but I’d just launched the website, and I applied, thinking, “why not”. Why not, indeed.

Today, I’m writing this while sitting in a beautiful hotel room in the centre of Sydney. It’s got an insane view, a gorgeous bathroom, a huge bed, and funky decor, and I’m told breakfast is included in the morning. I would not be able to afford this room for myself, even for one night, but luckily, the university has money to throw around. I’ve just gotten off of a zoom meeting with a different client, and I’m excited and proud to have just been given the opportunity that I was. I’m sure I’ll post about that project later on, though. So pretend I didn’t mention it.

I’m going to go check out the pool and let my phone charge. After that, I’ll wander around Sydney, take photos just for fun and find something to eat. I’ve been on the train all day, and I’m somewhat unwell, so the combination of travel and nerves calls for some panadol and solitude.

10.00 pm

I want you to know that earlier on, when I said I would go to the pool and relax, I immediately managed to lock my key in my room. But the pool was nice when I managed to get there, and I had a great big relaxing walk afterwards and found a cute little Italian place for dinner. I returned to the hotel when it got dark, took a bath (luxurious because I don’t have a bathtub at home), and just chilled out. I’ve just revisited the rooftop pool & spa for the night-time city skyline vibe, and it’s the night before the conference. I’m as relaxed as possible, but I tend to get over-excited about new fun things like this. I don’t know what I’m in for tomorrow; they gave me an event briefing over zoom a few weeks ago, but regardless, I’m not sure what to expect.

Tuesday 29th November

6.00 pm

I am on the train home now. Apologies for the jump in the timeline, but I was working. Here’s the update. The symposium was held in the hotel, and it was a heap more significant than I was expecting. There were so many highly educated doctor-types around me all day. For me, that involved taking a handful of group photos of the guests and a heap of pictures of the official speakers on stage. I had to overcome any guilt or embarrassment I might have felt about being “in the way”. At some stage, I realised I was over-shooting. I didn’t need 50 photos of the same representative speaking on stage, but there were few other ways to keep myself occupied.

I’ve learned a lot today. I’ve learned an incredible amount about statistical data surrounding palliative care, to be specific, but the experience as a photographer was new and interesting for me. They gave me a lanyard with my name and ‘photographer’ title, making it feel all the more official. The hotel served everyone morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, which was great. It took a few moments to get my bearings and figure out who was most important, how the event worked and why the attendees deemed it essential. Once I got a better idea of the event, I knew what to focus on. I changed between two lenses for hours and worked around the less-than-ideal lighting situation. Two attendees, I was told, did not consent to their photo being taken, so I avoided those people except to introduce myself and let them know I’d avoid taking their photo.

There will be a hefty load of editing to get through after this. Not editing per se, but sifting through choosing what to edit and what to dismiss, so I’m not handing over 800+ photos. I’m told the images will be used in the annual report, socials and university pages, so they don’t need a funky fresh edit or anything. They will likely wind up in a portfolio album on my site, as well, so if you’re particularly interested to see the final pics, hold tight. Overall, the experience was really interesting and rather fun, I’m glad I signed on for the job, and I’m thankful to have been given the opportunity.

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