Last month I was honored by NCAIED (National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development) to volunteer as one of their photographers and document their annual conference RES2010.
In a different life I got my photography start as an event photographer at the Sun Valley All-season Resort. Hired to shoot events like corporate conventions, fund raisers and celebrity functions. After spending the past few years shooting primarily stock photography I certainly was well out of practice. This conference, which is held in Las Vegas each year, was surprisingly huge. Over 25oo Native and non-Native business people attended this years RES2010 symposium.
Upon arrival, I started with photographing the volunteers behind the scenes a day before the official opening. It was a splendid chance to meet the organizers, new friends, Canada's First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo and a few of the NCAIED board members.
Conference attendees enter a tournament at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
The next morning, before the crack of dawn, there was a breakfast and golf tournament held at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort featuring two spectacular courses. By photographing the team players I was able to meet many of the sponsors, tribal chiefs and VIP's. That evening the Opening Reception featured Native American celebrity actor Litefoot, who was this year's master of ceremonies. Litefoot's a charismatic spokesperson, gentleman and entertainer. He's known for his hip-hop music and was the leading character in the Disney movie "Indian In The Cupboard".
Angel Wynn with Hip-Hop Artist Litefoot
Through my travels our paths have crossed many times. While photographing pow wow festivals on various reservations, Litefoot set's up a booth where he give's away his autograph and mentors teenagers who crowd around his table. He's an inspiration and a flicker of hope for many NDN youth.
The theme for this year's conference concentrated on the Entertainment Industry. Kicking off the first day was a spectacular opening session the first morning, beginning with a short multimedia presentation. Immediately following an Artist set up his easel and canvas then proceeded to paint a work of art while a stage presentation of a rap song led by Litefoot, traditional grass dancer and a raven dancer with huge wing spans took center stage. Margo Gray Proctor, NCAIED Board Chairwoman, gave an inspirational speech on Native to Native business. Afterwards the hallways were stuffed with people discussing economic development, distributing business cards and company brochures. A networking frenzy like bees buzzing a hive. Even between shoots I was able to set up 2 appointments to meet with clients. That evening the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe located on the Strip entertained us with 'Native Music Rocks'. A gala event to raise funds for Haiti Relief that featured American Indian recording artists Micki Free, Casper, Shea, and Keith Secola. After purchasing an arms length in raffle tickets I was lucky to win a door prize of $100 which was donated back to the Haiti fund. After closing down the night club we headed back to the Hilton lounge for more networking, hand drumming and singing.
Musician Micki Free at Hard Rock on the Strip
Next day, with the cutting of a large ribbon, the doors were opened to a trade show with over 700 vendors participating and who are interested in doing business with Indian Country. While lugging my cameras and taking more pictures, I was able to hand out my own promo cards to let interested parties know about my company NativeStock Pictures and my specialized stock photography collection.
Did I mention yet all the buffet tables set up for breakfast and lunches? I work for food so bring on the feasts. Even Dove ice-cream bars were served! Later that evening a private function was held on the top floor suite known as "Elvis's Penthouse". Another good reason for volunteering photography services is that you get invited to all the fabulous parties.
Walter Lamar poses on Elvis's bed
The final and last day was filled with more meetings, recognition awards of Southwest pottery and delicious meals served buffet style. However, it was time for me to wrap it up. Saying goodbye was not easy as I had made many new friends, invited by many tribal members to visit their area, found model's interested in working with me along with exchanging information with future business prospects. Once the parking valet was tipped, I loaded up the cameras and suitcase into my pickup truck. My only hopeful wish is that I'll be invited back again to volunteer as photographer for next year.
4 Minute Multi Media Highlight Slideshow
More Photos from RES2010
Photography by Marilyn Angel Wynn/Nativestock.com