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From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Photographing Holiday Lights in Bryant Park

Finalist in Instagram Live

About this entry

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic took the world by storm, and the creative industry faced some of its worst days in recent history. From job loss to canceled family gatherings, the year—and particularly the holidays—felt a little bleaker in 2020. But from the get-go, Adorama charged its community with a simple but powerful challenge: Create No Matter What. The brand carried this theme from May 2020 into the holiday, and knew that post-holiday—when the real winter doldrums set in—their community would need even more inspiration.

So how do you inspire photographers to pick up their cameras and push those creative limits, despite winter weather, post-holiday blues, and the drag of nearly one-year in a pandemic? 

Why does this entry deserve to win?

The answer’s simple: Show them a new approach, and provide the incentive to go out and practice. Adorama’s Holiday Lights Live—a how-to IG livestream detailing tips for photographing with festive lights—did just that. In this virtual event on December 26, 2020, professional photographer Vanessa Joy taught Adorama’s nearly 300,000 Instagram followers how to creatively use holiday lights to produce dazzling effects. And, as an incentive to get the Adorama community out there photographing, the brand coincided this Holiday Lights Live streaming tutorial with its Bokeh Photography Challenge. (Note: “bokeh” is the dazzling, blurred-light effect produced by holiday lights out of focus).

Like most brands, Adorama’s Instagram community members come from all walks of life. Some are new to the craft, others are seasoned—and that’s where the magic of this livestream comes into play. While Vanessa Joy ran through everything from camera gear, equipment setup, and pose suggestions, the IG community members helped each other determine settings, lenses, and best autofocus options for experimenting with bokeh. The more experienced photographers shared their perspectives to take Joy’s ideas one step further, while Joy took the audience, including many newer to the craft, through her setup. It was like they were there on the scene with her. 

Adorama’s Holiday Lights Live inspired creators on all levels. Those newer to the craft learned through Joy’s approachable demeanor and detailed overviews—both crucial in the often intimidating world of photography. And, while more seasoned photographers knew these tricks, they found inspiration by sharing their knowledge and helping other community creators push their craft. 

It was a true win for Adorama, showing Create No Matter What is more than a catchy slogan. Following Holiday Lights Live, these photographers had a new task and a newfound inspiration—to go out (or stay home) and creatively photograph with holiday lights. Even better? They could win a prize package for over $3,000 by doing so! 


The Holiday Lights Live with Vanessa Joy campaign generated nearly 50,000 total IG views, with 5,625 of those tuning in live. Equally impressive were the over 100 comments from engaged viewers, which included everything from questions about the gear and settings—answered by more experienced community members—and gratitude from community members seeking inspiration. And, when the inevitable online troll showed up to downplay Vanessa Joy’s incredible skillset, community members jumped right in to shut them down. All in all, this program showcases how Adorama goes beyond views and likes to create a truly engaged and supportive community that’s always hungry for more. 


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