July 11, 2012

On Assignment: Relay For Life 2012 – Milpitas, Calif.

Luminarias outline the Milpitas Sports Center track during Relay For Life on June 23, 2012, in remembrance of those who lost the battle with cancer.  Photo by Stan Olszewski/SOSKIphoto.

Relay For Life is a huge annual event to create awareness, fund-raise for a cure, and remember those who lost their battle with cancer.  I recently had the privilege to cover this event on behalf of the Milpitas Post.

Photographing events can be difficult, especially large events like Relay For Life.  The difficulty comes when you want to produce new images that no other photographer has published in the previous years.  Other items that increase the difficulty include multiple sub-events taking place at once and how delayed the event is to start.

When you are working on a deadline for publications, you need have great time management skills.  In this scenario, Relay For Life started almost an hour behind schedule.  When this happened, I had a few options:
  1. Find a bench under some shade, check Twitter updates, and twiddle my thumbs.
  2. Walk around the venue, meet some great people, and get a better understanding of why they're participating in the event.
  3. Leave the venue, get some breakfast, and come back later.
With over an hour of delays ahead of me, I opted for a combination of all three.  First, I opened up the tasty granola bar and ice cold bottle of water from one of my Think Tank Photo pouches, found some shade, and enjoyed the breakfast I missed.  I then found some sweet articles to read from a few photographers I follow on Twitter.

53 minutes left till delayed kickoff!

53 minutes is plenty of time to walk a small outdoor venue like the Milpitas Sports Center where Relay For Life was being held, meet and talk with a handful of people, and capture some detail images I probably wound not have had time to make if the event was running on time.

I met a team of women called Party People for Life!, who set up a tent for decorated bra rentals, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.  They told me they were in their second year of participation and had been fairly successful the previous year.  It turns out team Party People for Life! raised almost $4,400 in 2012.

In the end, Relay For Life was a great experience.  I met a handful of great people, heard a few success stories from cancer Survivors, and learned a bit about cancer in general.  If you're interested in covering Relay For Life next year, you should also consider participating in the event by starting or joining a team and raising funds because Cancer Sucks!

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