The Next Web 2016
As a professional photographer who covers anywhere between 30–40 events (big and small) per year, I probably shouldn’t have favourites. I strive to deliver my absolute best (images and personality) to each and every single event and client that I engage with.
Having said that, there is one event that really sticks out to me — The Next Web Conference. For a number of reasons. In fact, when I consult other conferences during their planning (yes, I do this too … talk to me if you’d like to hear more), The Next Web is often the benchmark I point them to.
Yes, the 20,000 led lighting show on the ceiling of a former gasworks factory (Vienna, take note. This is what you SHOULD have done) is an eyegasm, and the holographic screens that adorn the stage are pretty goddamn magical, but more so, it’s the little details. The thought that goes into every single square meter and every single second the conference is up and running
Tiny little things like making sure that the photography team (yes, I assemble, lead, and oversee the quality and delivery times of three team members at TNW) has dedicated workspaces with all the power outlets and LAN lines (and appropriate adaptors) we could ever want. … and making sure that we’re fed.
Tiny little things like giving me a set of keys to get into the inner workings of the Gashouder so that I can get some incredible (if, meh … slightly dangerous, depends on your fear of heights) vantage points to get some epic shots.
Tiny little things like creating individual Slack channels (including a “random” channel that features some fucking hysterical shit — “I have no idea what you’re talking about, so here’s a bunny with a pancake on it’s head”) that keep everyone not only on the same page, but highly engaged and informed in the entire production process (The photos of the building of The Dome are pretty impressive).
Tiny little things like creating a custom Spotify playlist that will be used throughout the conference, and then unleashed to the general public (General Public) on the opening day.
Tiny little things like trash receptacles that have wifi relayed scales at the bottom of them informing the grounds crew which ones are reaching capacity and should be emptied soon. No shit … I dare you to find an overflowing bin at TNW. You won’t.
And the folks at The Next Web don’t just have a closing party. Oh hell no, they kick shit off right, and have a party on the night BEFORE the opening. Then give you the evening of day one to network and do as you please, and THEN blow the fucking roof off with a “Thanks for coming, now let’s all get hammered,” party on the second evening.
And then there’s the people that put this whole show together. I have never met a crew that’s more professional and inclusive. They truly realise the marketing and sales power of fantastic images, and both Wytze De Haan and Xander Kranenburg go above and beyond. If either of these guys ever sweat, … well, I’ve never seen it. “Cool” and “Cucumber” are clearly their middle names.
And speaking of people … TNW co-founders Boris Veldhuijzen Van Zanten and Patrick de Laive are two of the nicest, most down to earth guys I’ve ever met. I mean, when was the last time you saw a co-founder ensuring that his butt photobombed a selfie?
Or regularly offering up, “I’m @boris on Twitter. Talk to me. I mean, if you’re in the washrooms and run out of toilet paper, send me a tweet. We’ll make sure you’re taken care of.” Or addressing a group of highly influential people at a speakers dinner … by standing on the bar and shouting, because the PA system isn’t working?
I could go on and on about everything that The Next Web gets right. Did I mention the band? Yeah, that have a badass motherfucking rock band on stage to perform between acts. Yeah. They do.
Or I could tell you about how this year they’re also offering child care services for working Moms and Dads that want to strike a healthy balance in this whole work/life equation.
Or the street food. Each truck is specifically curated to meet just about every taste you could imagine.
Or about the live marching band that kicked off day two. That’ll cure your hangover. For sure.
Or about the stilt walkers that entertain between the end of the day program and before the evening events kick off.
Or … Or … Or…
I’m packing up my gear right now, charging all my batteries, cleaning all my sensors and lenses, and am on the earliest flight into Amsterdam tomorrow morning.
Because I need to? Nope.
Because. I. Can’t. Wait. Another. Fucking. Minute! #letsfuckingrockthis!
If you’re attending this year, I’ll be the Man in Black running around with (at least) three cameras. Say hi. You never know, Wytze’s just the type of guy to shove a ton of drink tickets in my hand, nod and smile, and simply say, “Here … go make friends.”
Enjoy, and if you’d like to work with me … get in touch!