Through the eye of a camera at the JYG!

By John Keells

The John Keells Year End Get-together, fondly known by us as “The JYG”, is indeed a mammoth, and the only event that brings the staff of the entire John Keells Group and their families together, once a year. I can’t recall exactly when I was first invited to cover the event as the ‘Official Photographer’, but I’ve been privileged to do the “clicking duty” for more than 5 consecutive years now!  Looking at the event through the eye of the camera has given me the opportunity to witness many of the joyous moments of crowd gathered due to a series of long planned and well executed events by the organizing committee.

Capturing the joy of everyone gathered at The JYG, especially the Kids, have been the most pleasurable part of this volunteer job. The event has been held at Sathutu Uyana until 2013 where there were plenty of fun rides and play areas to be enjoyed by kids of all ages; the airplane, the go-karts, the small train and kathuru onchilla have been some of their favourites.

Last year, when the venue of the event moved to Wesley College Grounds, a “Snow City” was added to the list of entertainment and most kids who had never experienced “snow” who went in to play didn’t want to come out!

The Art Corner is another area where kids enthusiastically showcase their artistic talents; some of the sketches – even though done within few minutes, were excellent. The Balloon Corner is an attraction especially for the younger kids and The Magic Show too attracts lots of participation and often the crowd needs to be controlled! Every kid is given a toy at the gifts tent, increasing their joyous mood.

Each of the events and activities at The JYG need lots of planning and execution like clockwork. For each staff member it’s a matter of ticking a box on a sheet to confirm their attendance and the number of family members attending.  But that is not a luxury the organizing committee has as they have to painstakingly look into every little detail, behind the scenes while doing their other daily duties at work to ensure that all 17,000 people in attendance have a good time!

It therefore goes without saying that the organizing of The JYG actually starts months ahead. There are so many things to pre-plan such as booking the venue, planning out the new items for the year, inviting external parties that does various work, buying toys for over 5000 kids according to ages, making sure fresh food packets are served and also ensuring the safety of all those there. Last year, I’ve overheard members of organizing committee swiftly and causing the least amount of disruption, identifying and escorting out an outsider who had entered without a ticket, and calmly dealing with staff members who forgot to bring their coupons for their kids’ toys! The Christmas Carols by the staff choir and musicians is the jewel of this year end get-together; it is a result of months of training after office hours to deliver a pitch perfect performance.

Naturally, being the only photographer for an event of this magnitude, is an important role, and is truly a humbling experience. I’m always under pressure to ensure I’m in the right position to capture Chairman light the candle to open the event at the best angle and almost always, the committee member assisting with the lighter and candle or a curious child pops up in front and I have to be ready to be on the move to reposition myself! The dim stage lights and the effects from the smoke machine during the Christmas Carols also make it difficult to take good photographs of the whole group. Most of the time when I do manage this, a Carol singer taking on a big note with the mouth fully open, doesn’t make a very good looking still photograph!

The experience as a whole makes me proudly connected to this Great Place to Work and its people as the ‘Family Photographer’..!!