|SMA Awards Trophies. By Nath Halawani|
It felt somewhat refreshing to be there with both highlights of having been nominated at the awards earlier at the prequal, and being an event photographer, with that shiny Media access tag on my chest. Last night was the night the Social Media Awards held their first awards ceremony on April 29th evening at the Phoenicia hotel, Beirut.
|Mustapha Hamoui, has the looks of a future PM. By Nath Halawani|
Hide 'n seekJust as a relatively large number of attendees, I got invited to the ceremony, and therefore didn't have to pay for the ticket. My invitation was through Lebanon Eguide, a start-up online social venue for travel and leisure around Lebanon and recently, the middle east.
Upon registration at the doors, I met Rana and then found me a chair to leave my two bags at. I had my gorgeous D7000 with the all-time favorite 35/1.8 (for those who are not into photography, this is the combo gear that produces the beautiful pictures you see on my page/blog). Alas, my flatmate was more than kind to hand me his 5D Mark II, a sign of courtesy that I didn't expect. I had asked for it for the sake of the fantastic wide angle it got. I knew that such an event could most certainly use the 24mm angle.
|Assaad Thebian. By Nath Halawani|
|Fantabulous tweeps: Rita Kamel and Sareen Akarjalian. By Nath Halawani|
Clowns at the wrong party
Enough with the technicalities, at a first glance the event seemed to me as the largest hide 'n seek game I ever played, with the twist of not having met the players anytime before, well, most of them. A lot of faces were familiar to me, Twitter was the savior there. I could easily recognize Tarek Haddad, Mohammad Hijazi (can't miss him with that bow-tie), Mustapha Hamoui, Cyril Rouhana and many other tweeps.
On the other hand, many of the people that recognized me were in fact reaching out for that shaggy guy with the two cameras and that lazy beard stuck on his face. Yes I was a mess, but who cares? Oh and, speaking of outfits and dress code, the SMA organizers had made it clear earlier that it's preferable to come well dressed as much as possible in their Dress Code Announcement, a decision that Mustapha had backed up with saying:
"The organizers of the awards have the right to give it whatever personality (marketing mix) they wish. They chose glamour and class, from the beginning, and this is their absolute right.."I mean, I'm not the kind of a guy to point out such issues, but from what I've seen last night, some girls had taken that rule pretty seriously. At a certain point I was getting really confused, there were moments where all I could see was clowns at the wrong party.
It was to my ultimate happiness to have met a few of the faces that I already knew, among them I remember Aisha Habli, Lynn El Bizri, Hanna Semaan (Abou Sha3r), Soha Itani, Darine Sabbagh, Rita Kamel, Sareen Akarjalian, etc.. Although I had wished to meet Angie Nassar, Christine Krikorian, Anis Tabet, and a whole lot more of the Tweeps that make my TL worth reading.
|The Audience with the Media in the back. By Nath Halawani|
All for the glamI hated the part where people stopped me for a photo, confusing me with someone from the event's staff. I was there by my own will, I wasn't taking pictures for anybody else but me, and wasn't getting paid any nickle for it. Speaking of staff, how unorganized was it to see from afar the huge amount of photographers right at the stage bumping into each other trying to snap that glorious shot for their magazine/venue? I felt a bit relieved (at last) when Pierrette Katrib, the host of the show, elegantly asked them to step back, such an awful scene that was. You just couldn't simply look away from those cameras who kept raining flashes on that poor award winner.
On the other hand, I couldn't but turn off the Wifi and use my 3G instead. Having known the large expected number of social media users at the event, shouldn't the venue's administration provided the organizers with a better Wifi connection? It wasn't just me apparently, which broke a slight outrage among the audience when the host asked about the connection, a huge BOO was the answer.
Rita Kamel had tweeted about something that really pushed my buttons as well:
Rita Kamel @ritakml 2hThe renowned artist with the voice that I'm fond of, Poly, was left to perform in front of empty chairs, literally. I bet the audience thought this was a break, during which they were allowed (expected?) to leave the auditorium til the performance ends. This was a huge downside I wished didn't happen.
Wasn't it rude to leave the artists perform in front of empty chairs? #smabeirut #justsaying
|Poly, waiting for the technical problem to be solved. By Nath Halawani|
*Claps*I appreciate the effort put into making last night happen, such an effort manifested by the time and resources the organizers had put at hands. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart, for a night that succeeded in bringing together the faces of the online Lebanese community for once, and to shedding light on the growing number of the social media platform among Lebanese youth. Each and every single award was another reason for the winner to feel proud, for the losers to kick ass next year, and for me to feel so proud of people such as Darine, Walid and Mohammad.
|Nemr Bou Nassar with a friend, busy tweeting and testing the Tweet Fall on the wall. by Nath Halawani|