HOW I GOT STARTED IN THE EXPERIENTIAL EVENT INDUSTRY
My career started in Chicago in the early 2000s working as a promotional model through my modeling agency. Little did I know that working a few gigs as a promotional model would lead to the start of an exciting freelance career that would take me around the world, representing hundreds of most iconic and well-known brands. As I discovered the potential for professional growth in the events industry, I advanced to working as a brand ambassador. As I became more polished and knowledgeable in experiential events and brand activations, I began leading and managing event teams in the field for various types of brand activations and representing companies at tradeshows. From there, I advanced into becoming an Emcee/Narrator and Product Specialist, as well as assisting behind the scenes in event production
HOW MY PHOTOGRAPHY NICHE WAS DEVELOPED
Over the years, the more and more I observed and learned about different types of brand activations, I fell in love, and a passion was developed. Entering into the events industry has provided me with many ah-ha moments. One of my ah-ha moments (It’s 2020, we can still say ah-ha moment right?) set the course for my niche in experiential and brand activation event photography. With love for finding and capturing beauty in each moment, I had been dappling in various forms of photography, but nothing really felt completely satisfying until I turned to events. I thought to myself the experiential event industry is already a fulfilling career that I’m immersed in and have a passion for, forget a double rainbow, you’ve got a double passion! (Do you ever chuckle at your own lame jokes? I just did.)
FAMILIARITY IN THE LIVE EVENT INDUSTRY
Although each venue, location, and experience is unique, having been involved in so many types of events over the years, I’m able to hone right in and recognize the event flow and understand what needs to be the highlight in photos. I feel comfortable and confident roaming throughout the event capturing shots. Because of my consumer-facing background, it’s second nature to get a crowd excited, direct, or gather people together for particular establishing shots when it’s needed; otherwise, I seamlessly move throughout the event space.
WHAT I LIKE MOST ABOUT BRAND ACTIVATIONS
It’s incredible to witness an empty event space transform into an out of this world experience! I admire the marketing teams that conjure up the most creative activation ideas that seamlessly convey strong brand messaging. It’s even more of a joy to witness people enjoying themselves and seeing everyone connect by sharing an exciting collective experience.
THE FUTURE OF EXPERIENTIAL + BRAND ACTIVATION NICHE PHOTOGRAPHERS
I don’t envision that the use of live events to promote, elevate a brand and brand messaging will ever go away. There will always be a need for high-quality promotional imagery that tells a story, which means that the skill set to produce those images must be available. It must be challenging when event producers and agencies are seeking photographers and fall into the internet sea of wedding and studio portrait and commercial photographers. I think there’s definitely a need for experiential professionals to be able to easily and quickly identify photographers that are as passionate and knowledgeable about brand events as they are. Having a Photographer that understands the industry and can be proactive about capturing amazing photos will also help in branding opportunities, and brand visibility is vital. The Vendry, which is a company that has dedicated themselves to connect brands and agencies to vendors who are invested in live experiences, is a good sign of things to come. My photography business Photos By Chernise has been featured on their website as one of their top photographers in Chicago.
NEXT STEPS IN MY PHOTOGRAPHY CAREER
I’m ready to continue to capture amazing moments that help tell the stories of each brand. I’m glad I was able to officiate the marriage of my two passions, photography, and events.