What Comes After the Coronavirus: A Commentary from David Hofflich, Owner of Oscar & Associates and OA Visuals.

Our company, Oscar & Associates, has been photographing events and conferences since 1947. My grandparents lived through WWII and I knew instantly what the terms “Pre-War” and “Post War” meant. I now refer to the 73 years we have been in business as “pre-19” and I ask myself what will the business of events, shows and conferences look like “post-19?”

Chicago Home and Houseware Show 1956

What will replace the must have photos of ribbon cuttings, crowded aisles and people shaking hands?

How about the interview of an attendee on the show floor in amongst a booth bustling with activity or the re-cap video showing the highlights of an annual event attended by 30,000 people?

As I start talking with clients about coming back and making sure that everyone is working safely, I realize I do not have a portfolio of work to share that is relevant any longer. While our company provides video and photography services to over 150 shows and events annually as well as to the exhibitors at these shows we do not have a single photo or video of what this industry will look like when we rev up and get down to work again.

We have breathtaking photos of crowds eagerly anticipating a shows opening, of Fellows getting their medical certifications, runners crossing the line at many 5Ks (all too early in the morning), of samples of newly created flavors and smells being passed around, students competing with their projects and displaying their posters, a wedding taking place in the shadow of a truly, massive truck, craftspeople and educators receiving their recognition, young professionals having their first professional portrait taken and so many others.

Crowd awaiting the opening of CES

I can go on and on about the fantastic imagery we have been blessed to capture for all of our wonderful and appreciative clients, and all the opportunities I have had to catch a glimpse of the future by attending these trade shows and conferences .

World changing innovations and ideas are unveiled, presented, discussed and are on display at every trade show and conference every week of every month all year. I am certain that many of the people and companies that attend these events are hard at work solving the massive headwinds we are all facing right now. From the medical field and manufactures, to the supply chain & logistics software and hardware developers, to managing human resources to the builders of massive and complex labs and the transportation and delivery chain. The exhibit houses that have re-tooled their production lines to manufacture PPE supplies, and the general contractors and display houses out on the front line setting up drive through testing stations and transforming our beloved convention centers into hospitals. Seeing the images of Javits Center and McCormick Place left me speechless. So many seemingly different industries and professions are all working to combat this health and economic tsunami.

McCormick Place being used as an alternative care center

Honestly, I am not sure what the videos and images will look like upon the return to on-location events. I do know people are creative and clever and adaptive. There are very smart and innovative people and companies working on layouts, flows and technology that will allow for safe gatherings where people can once again come together to meet, do business, catch up and fill their need for interaction with friends, peers and colleagues. Capturing photos and videos of this new look is vitally important to show not only how conferences, conventions and events have moved forward, are proactive and cautiously optimistic but to capture the moment, the history, the emergence of “Post-19”.

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