How to Safely Hold a Conference During COVID-19

September 2, 2020

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible and safe to hold a conference or in-person event, even given the current scare of COVID-19. How do I know this? Because event photographers, Lisa Staff Photography and Fusion Photography, were hired by the AWIR, Association of Women in Rheumatology, to capture photo and video content of their three-day networking event/conference at Sonesta Resort in Hilton Head, SC. While adhering to social distancing and wearing masks when necessary (you’ll see this throughout the photos), these wonderful and brilliant ladies pulled off an educational event that was jam-packed with insightful and inspiring information within the world of Rheumatology. Proving… it can be done!

About AWIR

In order to explain what AWIR is, I’m first going to touch on what Rheumatology is. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of what it was until Fusion and I started creating photo and video content on our first day. According to

A rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who received further training in the diagnosis (detection) and treatment of musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases. … Rheumatologists treat joint disease similar to orthopedists but do not perform surgeries.

As I said above, we were in a room full of brilliant minds for those three days and there were several takeaways, not to mention things I was doing research on on the side.

AWIR, Association of Women in Rheumatology, is made up of women who are in the field of Rheumatology. Their mission is to promote the science and practice of Rheumatology, foster the advancement and education of women in Rheumatology, and advocate access to the highest quality health care, and management of patients with Rheumatic diseases. The group goes after their mission by hosting events, such as the AWIR Annual Conference which event photographers, Lisa Staff Photography and Fusion Photography, photographed, fostering and providing community, putting out an educational newsletter and additional resources, and so much more! And I’m sure you’re wondering – yes, they do offer resources and information on COVID-19 based on their knowledge/expertise. They even had a session on this at the annual conference. Talk about insightful!

AWIR Annual Conference

Being event photographers in Hilton Head, SC, what Fusion Photography and I were hired to do was no different than when we’ve been hired for past events before COVID-19. We were asked to capture and create photo and video content for the AWIR Annual Conference. It was our job to tell the story of the conference that went down in Hilton Head, SC and help AWIR spread the word.

The Annual Conference I’m sure looked different than it did in past years however, these ladies were focused on pulling it off in-person and in a safe manner. The advocates and speakers for the conference knew their message was better spread via an in-person set up, therefore they implemented safety measures to ensure it could happen. With the help of the staff at Sonesta Resort Hilton Head, the AWIR Annual Conference abided by social distancing rules which meant only one person per conference table. This also meant limiting the number of attendees compared to conferences in past years. In addition to this, masks were to be worn when not eating or presenting on stage. Social distancing was not only abided by during the presentations, but also in between. You didn’t see people shaking hands or giving big hugs like you may have at last year’s event. Instead, everyone attending kept it respectful and safe by keeping their distance.

What they didn’t allow any of this to inhibit though were the discussions and presentation of amazingly educational content. Those that couldn’t attend could listen in virtually and those that couldn’t attend to present, were able to video in and still present their information. No one attending in-person or virtually let COVID-19 get in the way of expanding their horizons, supporting a great organization, or advancing the mission of AWIR. The group of advocates within AWIR are resilient and hosting this event proved this even further – their message is important and they will not stop spreading it. Instead, the Association of Women in Rheumatology took the high road and PIVOTED/ADAPTED, but did not fully change course.

Lisa Staff Photography and Fusion Photography were proud to be part of capturing this event and telling the stories of this great organization. Not only did it prove that Coronavirus doesn’t have to stop us, it also proved that this group truly believes in the importance of their message. That they feel comfortable standing tall and presenting their message confidently. It was even more refreshing that they hired photographers and videographers to create photo and video content to further help spread their message. It’s all about being resilient and adapting/pivoting, but not folding.

Do you have an event or conference in Hilton Head, SC or Savannah, GA that you would like photo and video content created for? The Lisa Staff Photography and Fusion Photography duo has your back! Reach out to us below and we can collaborate on making your event come to life so you can keep spreading your message!

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