General Conference in Pictures

Despite the fact that I’ve lived in Utah most of my life, I’d never been to General Conference until this weekend. In the tabernacle days, the idea of standing in line all night in order to maybe get in sounded miserably unappealing. However, even since the conference center has been used, it still didn’t call to me. It’s just really nice to sleep in and then watch conference on TV in my pajamas or sweats or whatever. But for some reason, when my bishop announced that he had tickets to a couple sessions, I really, really wanted to go. Weird, I know. As soon as sacrament meeting was over, I threw myself over the benches, flinging sunbeams and deacons over my shoulders, and stopped with a screech in front of the bishop to ask for a couple tickets. (I may have exaggerated a bit in that previous sentence.)

Thus I found myself in Salt Lake this weekend, with tickets to the Saturday morning and Sunday morning sessions of conference. I brought my camera along and thought I’d share some images. (There are lots of pictures below, so it’s not the most dial-up friendly post. I have dial-up, so I feel your pain.)

Saturday morning was mild, but rain and possibly snow was in the forecast. However, the weather was fine at this moment, and it made it a pleasant walk to the conference center.

Unfortunately, as usually happens when crossing through Temple Square, the missionaries stopped me to chat. Man, I hate that. Temple Square was crawling with people on their way to conference, so I thought I’d just be one with the crowd and not have to carry on a conversation, but I must look approachable or something. They asked me what brought me to Temple Square. “Um, General Conference,” I responded, thinking it had to be pretty obvious. We chatted for a couple minutes and I prepared to leave them to snap some pictures of the temple. They offered to take my picture with the temple in the background. I passed, but asked if I could take their picture.

Our paths crossed again Sunday morning, but we just said hello.

I’d never seen ducks in the reflection pool before. Maybe they were drawn by the Spirit :-).

There are several groups of missionaries (and a few others who joined in) singing hymns around the area to set the tone and to be a joyful sound over the shouts of the few, but annoying, protesters.

The police officers seemed to be having fun teasing the protester, who was taking it in good fun. I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying to each other, though.

Here was the line to enter. It wasn’t very long. You have to go through metal detectors and have your purse or bag searched. They aren’t gentle when searching. If you’ve got a camera or something else breakable, make sure it is safe in a padded case or something. They’re nicer than the airport people, though.

I was waaaaay up and waaaaay over, but I was still able to get some pictures. I arrived just as they opened to doors to let people in – an hour and half before conference started, and the choir was practicing the songs they would sing that morning. It was wonderful to hear them for quite a while. It meant I got to hear “Consider the Lilies” more than just the one time performed during conference, which was a lovely treat. A lot of the guys have their jackets off. I wonder if it is hot down there. By the way, with all of the bodies in the conference center, it is NOT hot (though the choir members are under lights, so they might be a different case). Actually, I was pretty sure hypothermia was setting in during the Sunday morning session. Brrr.

Ah, everyone has arrived. The sisters on the right side of the stand always confused me. Adding up the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society general presidencies, you just don’t get as many people as there are on the stand. I finally had that cleared up. The sisters on the bottom two or three rows are the wives of the men in the Quorum of the Twelve. The husbands and wives come in sort of randomly and separately before the session, but after the session, as the Quorum of Twelve file out, they join their wives and walk out hand in hand or arm in arm or arms around waists (as was the case of Elder Bednar and his wife after the Sunday morning session). Awwwww….

It’s about 5 minutes before start, and an announcement is given asking everyone to be courteous to the protesters (it was the rare person who did anything besides ignore the protesters, and the rest seemed kind of amused and took their picture – I was the latter) and to follow traffic rules when leaving. The voice also tells us that there is no photography or recording allowed, so I put my camera away. Obviously no one cared about photography before conference starts, though. There were several ushers inches away from me, and no one objected to me taking pictures.

Some randomness:

One either side of the Twelve is a bench seat for the non-front row folks to sit on when they come down while the previous speaker finishes up. This way, they are close to the podium and can get there in just a few seconds. Bishop Burton came down way early and was there for quite a while. They can also get a bit of water there before going up to speak (or, at least Elder Tingey did during the Sunday morning session).

A lady a few rows from me seemed to have passed out or something. She wasn’t out for more than a few seconds, but still…. Some nearby men offered assistance, but the lady who was with her said that they were okay. A couple minutes later she changed her mind and a couple strong men helped the poor woman up the stairs (and there were a lot of stairs to go up) during the rest hymn. She was looking mighty woosy. Hopefully she recovered.

During the rest hymn in the middle of the Saturday morning session (“Now Let Us Rejoice”), when everyone stands (ahhhh… that feels good), President Hinckley tapped his cane in rhythm with the words.

When Sister Beck finished her talk and returned to her seat, the sister next to her (possibly the YW president – I’m too far away to actually see faces, so I’m not sure) took her arm and hand and seemed to offer “congrats” or “good job” or “you survived”. I’m not sure if actual words were exchanged (again, nosebleed section), but she kept her friendly hand on Sister Beck through part of the next hymn.

When President Monson sat down after giving his talk, President Hinckley patted him on his arm. I wonder if the members of the Twelve who have been in that quorum for quite a while still get nervous when they speak.

You can tell when the choir is going to be singing next (aside from the announced order of things). During the Saturday morning session, the organist would turn on the organ lights as the speaker is finishing up. During the Sunday morning session, the organist left the lights on the whole session, but you could see when he moved from his chair to the organ. You can also tell by the movement of the cameras. On the front lower level, directly in front of the stand, are three cameras. The two side ones are low when they are aiming at the speakers, but when the speaker is finishing up, only the middle camera stays on the speaker, and the side cameras move up higher to be level with the choir. When they move up, it looks kind of alien or else like weapons from Star Wars. “Okay, you aim for the sopranos, I’ll take out the tenors.”

When the Saturday morning session ended, I was sad but not surprised that I didn’t get to hear President Hinckley. I was thus very happy when he spoke in the Sunday morning session when I was there.

It had rained while we were in the Saturday morning session, but had stopped. The temperature was quickly dropping, though, and more rain was definitely coming, so I just snapped a couple pictures of the temple and went back to my hotel to watch the Saturday afternoon session on TV. The picture above is of the conference center just after the Saturday afternoon session started. It is very wet and cold out there.

I arrived bright and early again for the Sunday morning session. Still in the nosebleed seats, but slightly more central. I was right by a camera this time (most of the cameras are remotely controlled). Before the session started, the cameraman (in whatever yonder control box he or she is in) turned the camera to us behind it. Several people waved, and the cameraman waved back by quickly moving the camera up and down. Ah, a friendly cameraman.

It was again wonderful to hear the choir practicing for conference as well as for “Music and the Spoken Word”. A couple minutes before “Music and the Spoken Word” started, Lloyd Newell (a.k.a., the Spoken Word guy) welcomed us and told us to be quiet during the program. He also told us that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was in the audience for that show and for the immediately-following session of conference.

Sunday was a beautiful day. It was quite cold walking to the conference center in the morning, but by the time we came out of the morning session, it was a great temperature – still slightly cool, but comfortable. There seemed to be more protesters Sunday than on Saturday.

However, there were a lot more conference-goers just milling about, enjoying the beautiful ambiance. That reflection pool is quite a draw. Obviously I was drawn to it too.

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About Tanya Spackman

Tanya was born in Provo, Utah, on a warm July day. After escaping childhood with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises (except for 5 stitches - oh, and that incident with the staple in the thumb), she graduated from BYU with a degree in molecular biology. Before graduation, she served a mission in Chicago. As graduation neared, she decided lab work really wasn't her thing, and she had no interest in research or teaching (but really, molecular biology is interesting), so she decided to attempt the world of technical writing. Thus, she now works as a technical writer/editor for the Navy in Washington, DC. She loves to read and travel.

36 thoughts on “General Conference in Pictures

  1. Beautiful pictures, the one with the protester talking on his cell phone while holding the sign cracks me up. It makes me think somebody dragged him to the protest and he’d rather be home with his family.

    What I apprecieted the most were the small moments I’ve never seen on tv. GBH tapping his cane, sisters comforting each other after a talk, GBH patting Monsons arm, all thosea re great moments that seem to make these leaders so human, something that can be easy to forget.

  2. Rusty–

    I looked it up when I saw that poster. All I can think is that he thinks “in spirit” means that the Nephites et al just had visions of Jesus and Jesus didn’t actually visit them. I dunno.

  3. Rusty, I have no idea. I looked it up when I got home, thinking that would clarify what he was talking about, but nope. Maybe he isn’t a real anti and just enjoys confusing people. Maybe he’s taking a two-day April Fools?

  4. These are great photos (and commentary) Tanya, thanks for posting them. Just curious, what kind of camera you used, and whether you adjusted your digital “film speed” for the inside the conference center shots.

  5. Guy Murray, I used a Fujifilm S5000 digital camera. I changed the shutter speed for inside the conference center. I mostly just had to experiment with how much I slow the shutter speed without getting blurry images because I didn’t have a tripod. I got a lot of bad shots, but I got some good ones. I did some adjusting of film speed but couldn’t figure out what actually worked best, so just stuck it on 400 for my shutter speed experimentations and left it there.

  6. Loved the pics! Exquisite! Well done and nicely recieved. I was at the Saturday moring session with my wife (it was our first time to attend conference together) and it was such a beautiful experience. Seeing your pictures brought it instantly back. I LOVED the reflection photo!!!

  7. I don’t know how everyone was so calm about those protestors. They annoy the cheese out of me and I’m just seeing photos. I know ignoring them is probably the best action and treating them with charity is certainly the best action but… *twitch*twitch* Oh well. :)

    I appreciated the little things you shared too, like the waving cameraperson and President Hinckley tapping his cane. Especially President Hinckley tapping his cane. I’d had the impression that he was stoicially enduring the Conference. That’s one illusion I’m happy to have broken. :)

  8. Fantastic pics. You should start a flickr account if you haven’t already.

    The protest sign about the Bible cracks me up. Very few Christians seem to know the history. They seem unaware that it wasn’t “compiled” in its present state at the time any of those verses were written.

  9. An utterly obscure sign, but I’d be willing to wager the protester is ardently pro-life and feels that Ether 2:17, which references the idea that Christ appeared in His body of spirit to someone after Mary’s said to be pregnant with Him, “tells a lie” concerning the great importance to affirm the fetus to be imbued with life, spirit and soul at its conception (and indeed the Church believe obortion to be justified in certain cases, such as that of incest or rape and where the life of the mother is unreasonably endangered).

  10. Not that I’ve ever felt that logic was a particular strength of the protestors but Ether chronicles events that happened during and immediately after the fall of Babel. Not only was Mary not pregnant with Christ at that point but Mary had not been born herself.

    Perhaps the protestor feels that the reference to Christ having a spirit body instead of glowing ectoplasm or whatever they might feel it is is the lie?

  11. Tanya, I’m glad you enjoyed your first LIVE conference. These are great pictures and lots of fun details. I stayed home with the boys and watched it on BYU-TV. No protesters. Proud Daughter of Eve, the protesters bug me, too.

  12. Oy Tanya, I shouldn’t have looked at your beautiful pictures. A sudden wave of homesickness just washed over me. Thanks for sharing your conference experience, one of the best things I’ve ever read/experienced on a blog.

    Nothing off the top of my head about Ether 3:17 except maybe he is trying to say Jesus and therefore God has only a body of spirit. One of the “God is spirit” crowd. If He can reveal Himself in spirit as one with a body then He may not have a body. This is just one possibility out of many.

  13. 17
    Very pretty pictures and lovely narration. Good for you.

    I’m a little puzzled by Mr. Ether 3:17 . . .

    I can’t believe I wish I had a chance to talk to this guy, I’d love to get an explanation. Doesn’t it seem like protesters should stick to simple things that everyone can complain about? Golden Bible/Polygamy/no Trinity all seem easy to understand.

  14. One of my few regrets from my mission is that I didn’t take the opportunity to sing with the MTC choir during one of the conference sessions while I was there.

    Thanks for the report. I listened to the entire conference without video, so having some images is nice.

  15. Tanya, great stuff! Maybe the Ether guy was just trying to be nonsensical hoping he’d get extra attention and create curiosity. Look at how much curiosity he’s created at this site! Free publicity!

  16. Hold The Phone, did you say Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was LDS or just attending Music and the Spoken Word/Conference?

  17. Heli, she was just attending. Though I believe now would be a good time to start the rumor that she is LDS :-)

  18. I can’t believe nobody commented on the anti with the typo on his elaborate sign. Instaed of “False Prophets” it read “False Prphets.”

  19. Sandra Day O’Connor was baptised by the same Elders that tracted into Chevy Chase, pass it on.

  20. No one remarked, Gilgamesh, because its such a truism. Everybody knows that the prphets are false.

  21. I have a stupid “living in the mission field” question. What is that building in second of your photos? The one with the sister missionaries in the background?

    And, actually, why do they have flags stuck to their nametags? Is that a “hey, I’m from your country, ask me how to get to the bathroom in your native language” thing? I’m confused mostly because the one has the US flag, which doesn’t automatically suggest a particular language to me.

  22. The building in teh second picture is the Assembly Hall. It’s a chapel-type building, they have concerts there, especially during Christmastime. I think the reason they wear flags is because they probably have hundreds of visitors asking where they’re from.

  23. In addition to what jjohnsen said, the flags are also used to help identify the language they speak. I believe they are taught the tour presentations in English and in their native language (if different than English) so the tours can be given to visitors from all over the world.

  24. I came from the east coast to attend the conference. What a great experience. I tried to take some pictures on the inside before and after, but yours put mine to shame. Great work.

  25. Last October, my son attended General Conference with our ward youth and leaders. Everyone took lots of pictures and put them together on a CD for all of us. There’s a great picture of more protesters, one of them a young kid (obviously LDS) holding a sign that said “People with signs are stuped” (not a typo) next to some other REAL protesters. We all got a chuckle.

    Tanya, “Consider the Lilies” never fails to make me bawl. :)

  26. I really enjoyed your pics. Thanks for explaining all the women on the stage. It never added up to me, either, and I’ve always wondered, but thanks to you, no more. So, just how did you find that out? Did they announce it at GC before the cameras come on? My hubby and our oldest son went there this past conference, and really enjoyed it. They went to all 5 sessions. Erik got up and bore his testimony about it last Sunday and lots of people told me how much they enjoyed his testimony, and it was good, too. We’re from Silicon Valley, CA.

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