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|| News Item: Posted 2003-05-31

The Glitz. The Glamor. The Latin Billboard Awards?
By Rhona Wise, EPA

Photo by Rhona Wise / EPA

Photo by Rhona Wise / EPA

Recording artist Ricky Martin holds his 'Star Award' he received at the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards ceremony at the Miami Arena in Miami, Florida 08 May 2003. Martin joined dozens of other Latin stars at the ceremony.
So, it's the end of March ... we anxiously await the Oscars… ok not me, I'm always shooting a Master's Tennis event. But with just as much anticipation, I wait for the April issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter, where we find Bert Hanashiro's wonderful images of all those stars and get "Awards Show Envy."

Never again!

Working for Agence France Presse for over 9 years I always managed to dodge the bullet of having to cover an entertainment awards show. But with my new position with EPA (European Pressphoto Agency) I am not so lucky. Only I did not get the grandiose Oscars… or even the Daytime Emmy's. I got for my first "show" the Latin Billboard Awards!

Welcome to the Wonder World of Entertainment Photography!

I arrive at the arena in plenty of time, make my way to the doorway of the photo room when a nice gentleman tells me in broken English we are not allowed in until 5:30. The time: 5:15... no problem. I lay down my camera bag and ladder and stand off to the side. I am joined shortly by photographers from AP and Reuters, we begin to chat when another man arrives tells us we must wait OUTSIDE until 5:30 …It's 5:27!

After a brief moment of discussion and a few "are you serious? It's 5:27!" we head back up the hallway… reach the outside door where we are left … glance at our watches and the security guard and proceed back down the hallway to the door of the photo room. At this point I'm thinking: "This is going to be a looong night."

The "still" photographers' room is the media dining room at the OLD Miami Arena. In there are three tiered rows of 15 or so chairs, a few more to the left and to the right. A small raised stage (maybe 12-18 inches high) and three tungsten hot-lights with barn doors and a piece of cheesecloth over them hung on the back wall: one center and two on each corner of the stage. And then there is that backdrop: bright shiny logo posters and there's NO getting away from the glare … Yipes!

The three wire service photographers scramble …look at every angle, and decide the best spot is standing on a chair in the back row…. If the winners hit their mark in a corner, we can knock out the glare from the posters….

Computers and camera get set up, there are a few snacks in the back room --- ok, this shouldn't be too bad.

Famous last words!

I have covered major sports events for years, but nothing I have done in the past could have prepared me for the mayhem I was about to witness.

Arrivals are over and photographers start filing in, probably 40 - 50 in all. Shortly after a voice from behind the curtain says, "Juanes is in the house" Al Diaz from the AP grabs my hand and helps me up on my chair and all hell breaks loose! Every photographer stands up and STAYS standing ... some in the front row even stand on their chairs with loud protests from the back two rows! And there's yelling, yelling and more: "Juanes, Juanes, aqui, aqui"…. "Permisso... aqui, aqui!" ... "Uno para Puerto Rico!"

(Translation: Here, Here! HERE LOOK HERE! OVER HERE!)

Juanes holds his trophy ... waves…walks up and down this 6-foot stage twice… smiles and leave. I look at Al ... "Was that IT!?"

I guess so … 'cause moments later here comes Ricky Martin … and so on and so on.

I spend over 4 hours up and down a chair, with a light in my ear (Oh, did I forget to mention that while standing on this chair I had to duck under one of the lights?) listen to screams from all directions in between the hurry up and waiting.

The moral to this story: When Bert tells you something is B O R I N G listen! Good thing I have four months off before the Latin Grammys.

(Rhona Wise is a staff photographer for EPA, based in South Florida. This is her first contribution to the Sports Shooter Newsletter. You can see a small sampling of her work on at:

Related Links:
Rhona's member gallery

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