Capturing an event on film is an important job. The event organisers want to show people who were unable to attend what they missed; show other clients and potential clients what can be organised, and how well it went.
These images showcase the quality of an event and helps an organiser attract attendees to any of their future events. It’s all part of their marketing strategy.
As a photographer, I need to make sure I can capture images that show the atmosphere of that event, which, as well as showcasing the organisers, also showcase my ability to take photos that tell the story of that event in the best way possible.
Recently I was asked to photograph an event where Olympian Eddie the Eagle was talking to a large group of business people.
My process before the event:
Do I know the venue, or is it a place where I’ve not photographed before? I need to arrive early, so that if it’s indoors, I can check out the lighting. Often when events are indoors, the lighting isn’t good, unless there is a lot of natural light, although if the event in the evening, that is obviously no use.
Are there any other obstacles in the venue, such as uneven floors, little space to get around the space, unsightly signs on the walls etc. I need to be aware of those, because there’s nothing worse than taking a lovely photo with a large sign behind everyone’s heads!
If there is little I can do about that, I make every effort to take the photos with clear wall space, but if I have no option, I know removing extraneous signs/switches etc will add to the editing time later.
If the lighting isn’t good, I have two options:
- Use a flash – which is very irritating to people. Also, when people perspire, you get reflections on skin, which also takes time to edit.
- Set my camera to high ISO settings, which can make photographs grainy, and you have to take many more photographs to capture everything in focus. This is important, depending where the photos are to be used.
I check that I have all of the equipment ready;
- Two camera bodies, both Canon 5DSR SLRs. On one I have a 70 to 200 lens, and on the other a 24 to 70 lens, and by using both I will have a full range of distance for photos.
- Camera batteries, fully charged, including spares.
- A spare memory card or two.
- A spare flash gun, in case one fails.
Once I have all of that checked, then it’s down to photographing people and the event.
Lastly, I need to know exactly when the client wants the photographs, after the event. In many cases, attendees will be sharing their own images on social media immediately – however when the client needs professional shots is critical. They may want to send out a press release as soon as possible, or gift images (with my permission) to key people.
I have to plan in the processing time too, and shooting at a high ISO, and also, because my camera is 50 megapixels, when I take close up images, I capture people with warts and all. This means, I have to delicately rebalance and sometimes, remove blemishes. This all takes time, and has to be factored in to my timeline.
During the event:
One of the biggest issues is people who don’t want to be photographed. Basically, you have to be brutal and get into a place where they may not notice you photographing them. This often helps anyway, because then I can capture them in a more relaxed state.
I always have a list of photos from the client that are important photos to capture. Sometimes, as with the Eddie the Eagle event, the evening was in aid of charity and attendees paid to be photographed with Eddie. So, after ensuring I captured photos during the night that showed the enjoyment and atmosphere, I then had to capture some portraits too.
One of the hardest things at this type of event, is that people tend to stand in little huddles, all facing inwards. I do capture a few of these images, because it shows how busy the room is. However, it means it’s impossible to get their faces, so I often ask them to turn and pose as a group.
Once I’ve taken the photos the client needs, I like capturing things that interest me. For example, I had fun when Eddie met people, I asked them all to pretend they were ski jumping, which most did with good humour.
At one point, Eddie was talking, and sharing a video with the room, and when he went to tinker with his laptop, at that exact moment, up popped Eddie the Eagle, and I managed to click at that moment, getting Eddie looking at Eddie!
At the end of the day it’s about capturing people chatting, listening to the speaker, the speaker themselves, and in the business networking pictures, you only need one person in the group to have the right facial expressions to make a good picture.
And critical to success is to be flexible and engaged during the event as a whole. In any event there will be unexpected and unpredictable moments which are key ‘memory hooks’ and no photographer wants to miss those moments. Even if it involves a vase shaped like a bottom!!!
If you would like to book me as the photographer for the event don’t hesitate to call 01672 519101