APEC 2015 - Exclusive access 'Behind the Scenes' to World Leaders

President of the United States, Mr Barack Obama arrives on stage to a standing ovation on the final day of APEC 2015 in Manila, Philippines.

President of the United States, Mr Barack Obama arrives on stage to a standing ovation on the final day of APEC 2015 in Manila, Philippines.

Before I start the blog post, I will just apologise in advance for the watermarks on all images.  As these are exclusive images that we shot, we do not wish for them to be taken and used elsewhere, hence the watermark.

We were recently hired by our long term friend and client Darren Kerr of Factor168 who was awarded the mammoth responsibility of being Project Director and Executive Producer for APEC 2015 in Manila, the most high profile event of the year in Asia, consisting of a VVIP list of heads of state including the Presidents of USA, China, Philippines, Prime Minister of Russia and countless other heads of industry from around the region.

We were tasked to provide the 'Behind the Scenes' photography of the event, which gave us exclusive 'Access All Areas' throughout the event including the green room before Presidents went on stage, which allowed us some really unique and intimate access to these individuals.  There were over 3,000 media and photographers covering the event each day and only 2 photographers allowed backstage - myself and Christiaan from F8 Photography....how cool is that!

The images that follow show some insights into the 'backstage' experience that is rarely seen, so we again thank Factor168 for the amazing opportunity and trust that was given to us to do them proud on this job.

Jack Ma, founder of alibaba.com, richest man in China preparing to go on stage with president of the united states.

Jack Ma, founder of alibaba.com, richest man in China preparing to go on stage with president of the united states.

President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines, backstage being briefed and surrounded by his bodyguards just before he officially opened the APEC 2015 Summit.

President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines, backstage being briefed and surrounded by his bodyguards just before he officially opened the APEC 2015 Summit.

Official MC of the event, Mr Allen Lai, Director of Asia Inc Forum, preparing to go on stage for the first time.

Official MC of the event, Mr Allen Lai, Director of Asia Inc Forum, preparing to go on stage for the first time.

Bodyguards and Secret Service personnel were everywhere during the summit.  Pictured here is the personal bodyguard of the President of Vietnam, carefully watching the crowd from behind the stage.

Bodyguards and Secret Service personnel were everywhere during the summit.  Pictured here is the personal bodyguard of the President of Vietnam, carefully watching the crowd from behind the stage.

the host venue of the APEC Summit 2015 - Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Manila, Philippines.

the host venue of the APEC Summit 2015 - Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Manila, Philippines.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla - relaxing in the green room before taking the stage.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla - relaxing in the green room before taking the stage.

Behind the stage a massive yet flawless operation was run by the production team of Factor168 headed up by Darren Kerr to ensure perfect lighting, sound and visuals supported each head of state for their presentations and discussions.

Behind the stage a massive yet flawless operation was run by the production team of Factor168 headed up by Darren Kerr to ensure perfect lighting, sound and visuals supported each head of state for their presentations and discussions.

Final sound checks being conducted before the President of the Philippines took the stage.  There were no technical issues throughout the entire summit, everything worked like clockwork, perfect job by the team from Factor168.

Final sound checks being conducted before the President of the Philippines took the stage.  There were no technical issues throughout the entire summit, everything worked like clockwork, perfect job by the team from Factor168.

The lobby of the Shangri-La remained public access throughout the event, which became a 'selfie hotspot' for tourists and guests alike around the APEC logo.  Other parts of the hotel had extremely tight security for obvious reasons.

The lobby of the Shangri-La remained public access throughout the event, which became a 'selfie hotspot' for tourists and guests alike around the APEC logo.  Other parts of the hotel had extremely tight security for obvious reasons.

The usual Philippines charm welcomed every guest to APEC at the entrance to Shangri-La.

The usual Philippines charm welcomed every guest to APEC at the entrance to Shangri-La.

Allen Lai, Director of Asia Inc Forum, official MC for the event practices his opening address on Day 1 backstage just minutes before the first President arrived.

Allen Lai, Director of Asia Inc Forum, official MC for the event practices his opening address on Day 1 backstage just minutes before the first President arrived.

Andrew Stevens (right) Asia Pacific Editor for CNN International just before he went on stage to interview the President of the Philippines.  Darren Kerr (left) was the Project Director and Executive Producer of the event and was conducting final checks with members of his team here before the start of the show.

Andrew Stevens (right) Asia Pacific Editor for CNN International just before he went on stage to interview the President of the Philippines.  Darren Kerr (left) was the Project Director and Executive Producer of the event and was conducting final checks with members of his team here before the start of the show.

Haslinda Amin, News Correspondent and anchor for Bloomberg Television going on stage to interview the prime minister of papua new guinea.

Haslinda Amin, News Correspondent and anchor for Bloomberg Television going on stage to interview the prime minister of papua new guinea.

The President of ViETNAM Mr TrUOng TAn Sa and his team are briefed by production crew behind the stage before going in front of the crowd at apec 2015.

The President of ViETNAM Mr TrUOng TAn Sa and his team are briefed by production crew behind the stage before going in front of the crowd at apec 2015.

chief executive of hong kong, mr cy leung checks his speech notes before going on stage in front of thousands of ceo's and vvip guests at apec 2015.  his bodyguard stands close by.

chief executive of hong kong, mr cy leung checks his speech notes before going on stage in front of thousands of ceo's and vvip guests at apec 2015.  his bodyguard stands close by.

Prime Minister Of New Zealand mr john key (fronT left) and chief executive of hong kong mr CY LEUNG preparing to go on stage.  their two bodyguards keeping an eye on me whilst i work in the shadows...

Prime Minister Of New Zealand mr john key (fronT left) and chief executive of hong kong mr CY LEUNG preparing to go on stage.  their two bodyguards keeping an eye on me whilst i work in the shadows...

darren kerr from factor168, project director and executive producer for apec 2015 checks the layout, visuals and sound setup on stage at the end of day 2 of the summit.

darren kerr from factor168, project director and executive producer for apec 2015 checks the layout, visuals and sound setup on stage at the end of day 2 of the summit.

secret service team checks the stage with production crew before mr obama arrives on stage.  security for the president of the united states was by far the most secure of all the vvip visitors., essentially the secret service took over the security for the entire venue on the morning of his arrival.

secret service team checks the stage with production crew before mr obama arrives on stage.  security for the president of the united states was by far the most secure of all the vvip visitors., essentially the secret service took over the security for the entire venue on the morning of his arrival.

jack ma, founder of alibaba.com and the richest man in china preparing to take the stage with the president of the united states.

jack ma, founder of alibaba.com and the richest man in china preparing to take the stage with the president of the united states.

jack ma awaits on the runway with darren kerr, the executive producer of the event, before walking on stage for his discussion with mr obama.

jack ma awaits on the runway with darren kerr, the executive producer of the event, before walking on stage for his discussion with mr obama.

shameless selfie of myself with jack ma on the front row of apec 2015....out of focus, but still worth it...lol.

shameless selfie of myself with jack ma on the front row of apec 2015....out of focus, but still worth it...lol.

president of the united states on stage with jack ma from alibaba.com

president of the united states on stage with jack ma from alibaba.com

Not everyday you get the president of the united states eyeballing you stage front.

Not everyday you get the president of the united states eyeballing you stage front.

president of china mr Xi Jinping arrives on stage at apec 2015.

president of china mr Xi Jinping arrives on stage at apec 2015.

PRIME MINISTER DMITRY MEDVEDEV OF RUSSIA BACKSTAGE with his team AT APEC 2015.

PRIME MINISTER DMITRY MEDVEDEV OF RUSSIA BACKSTAGE with his team AT APEC 2015.

Myself in front of the stage checking gear before obama came on stage.  we were the only two photographers allowed access all areas during the event, hence being able to capture some unique viewpoints of the behind the scenes preparation, very cool job for us.

Myself in front of the stage checking gear before obama came on stage.  we were the only two photographers allowed access all areas during the event, hence being able to capture some unique viewpoints of the behind the scenes preparation, very cool job for us.

As a footnote about gear - for those interested in equipment used for this event - I had a two man team, myself and Christiaan from F8 Photography.  Christiaan used Canon gear (our normal event gear), and I decided to road test the Sony cameras so used exclusively the Sony A7R2 and A7SII.  My reasons for using these two cameras were twofold, firstly size and sound - they are much more discreet and quiet (silent actually) than any DSLR, as I knew I would working in confined spaces, this allowed me much more discretion.  Secondly, low light...I was working in terrible light backstage, and quite simply no other camera other than the A7SII is even remotely capable of working in that light without a flash.  With the Sony I could shoot basically in the dark with no concerns about ISO quality - the perfect cameras for this kind of event, all images shown here were shot on those 2 cameras.

Some of our gear post event, all checked inside and out every day before gaining access backstage by eod (bomb squads) and secret service teams.

Some of our gear post event, all checked inside and out every day before gaining access backstage by eod (bomb squads) and secret service teams.

my personal gear for this event which all fitted into a small shoulder bag.

my personal gear for this event which all fitted into a small shoulder bag.

My entire rig for this event, fits into a small backpack or shoulder bag and gave me coverage for the following focal lengths:

- Sony A7RII (42 megapixel and 4K internal stabilised video)
- Sony A7SII (extreme low light (some images here shot at ISO40,000 in the dark, and 4K internal stabilised video)
- 21mm 2.8, 28mm F2, 55mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8, 135mm f2, 1.4x converter to convert the 135mm to longer telephoto, metabones adaptor for Canon lenses to be used with full AF on Sony cameras.
- iPad mini 4 for transfer of images remotely from camera to ipad for instant process and delivery to clients throughout the event.

F8 Photography, based in Hong Kong, provides portraiture, commercial stills and video production for clients all over the region.  Please check out the rest of our website and services here: www.f8photography.com.hk.  We also run travel photography workshops around the region in places like India, Japan, Cambodia amongst others.

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