Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge wrapped up their eleven day tour with a stopover in the Los Angeles area. Even though I deal with celebrity coverage on a daily basis and plan major award show coverage for Reuters, when I saw the pool assignment from the British consulate for their trip, it was an uh-oh moment for me.
In Los Angeles, the big 6 photo agency/media companies (LA Times, Reuters, AP, Getty, AFP and EPA) regularly pool images from celebrity trials and other high profile news events where it is not possible for all to cover. We have developed a friendly system that works for all. Half expecting this event to be business as usual, the official pooling plan became a web of complexity we as a group hadn’t dealt with before.
I am an obsessive planner. If I can’t get all the details in order way before the event, I get edgy. In the weeks before the event, information was scarce, the credentialing process difficult, and the unknown loomed larger by the day. Questions like, how many feet from riser to stage? How will we deliver the pool? What are our responsibilities to the UK WPA pool? All went unanswered. In the end I had to learn to relax and not sweat the details and let things play out on their own, because that’s the way this event will operate. Acceptance of what I can’t control became my mantra.
That’s not to say we couldn’t be as prepared as possible. You just have to plan for the unknown. Which included coordinating pool distribution from ourselves and new contributors that were not part of our regular rotation. When the pooling assignments came out the day the royal couple landed, we got together on a conference call to figure out how to produce the event. Reuters senior photographer Mike Blake came up with the idea of using Dropbox.com as a quick way to deliver the images with equality. It worked perfectly.
The call ended and just like that, the Canadian Air Force plane was rolling up on the tarmac at LAX. Reuters photographer Danny Moloshok was on the riser, and made a nice telephoto pic of the royals with the Canadian CG, Gov Jerry Brown. One pool down and 7 more to go. Reuters was not shooting pool on any of the Day One adventures, but plenty of unilateral and pool pictures arrived. Our remote editing software Paneikon allows us to get to the wire faster than the competition. By 7pm, I was waiting for pool pictures from the reception, where David Beckham was schmoozing with the Prince. He and his wife Victoria would have their fourth child days later. Mike Blake, who helped edit the Canadian leg of the trip, jumped on board to help Friday through the weekend. Los Angeles photographer Fred Prouser also helped crank out the images to our Singapore desk for the trip when he wasn’t shooting.