Conference photography – Speaker Shots

Conference photography

Over the years we have photographed countless conferences, workshops and high-level meetings. In our careers as corporate photographers we have photographed the likes of prime ministers, heads of state, CEOs, ministers and an array of VIPs. In the end, to a corporate and conference photographer, a person is just a face to take flattering photos of. Photos that matter, photos that tell the story.

Truth be told, conferences can really take it out of you. Often times the subject matter of the discussion is something you don’t know much about, and you get a little bit lost. The days do get a quite long, so you have to find ways to stay on top of your game and deliver quality work throughout the conference even when you are tired. It is our mission and goal to make sure that we tell the whole story, create beautiful, useful photos that are relevant and appropriate for use on social media, news outlets and other media. 

One way to keep it interesting is to create little challenges for yourself. Challenge yourself to take beautiful photos even though it is dark so you get to practice taking photos at a very low shutter speed. Move around to create a nice background, use the lights in the room to your advantage. Shoot through random objects or people to create more interesting photos. See how you can improve your skills while working.

Some things we have learned over the years: 

Firstly, don’t be shy, don’t be scared. Sometimes you are going to be the person standing in front of everyone, even the president or the CEO, getting a good photo of the speaker. No matter what, you need to get the shot. If you don’t, you might as well have not been there. So, stand your ground, make sure you get a flattering photo of your speaker where their eyes are open and face is not pulled in an unattractive way. You have got to make sure you have three to five great shots so that the communications team have a selection to pick from. Ideally you would have photos from different angles. First you get the safe shots, and then you play around with creative photos. Depending on the light in the room you may need to make use of your flash. This is typically also used for the “safe shots”. It is less creative, but from experience I’ve realised that many clients prefer the well-lit photos over the more creative natural light photos. Only once you are confident that you have got what you need, you can return to going incognito until the next speaker is on stage. 

Challenges you may face:

Some people are just naturally photogenic. When they speak they move well, they use hand gestures while talking, they stand with confidence, and their faces are not overly expressive. This is your ideal candidate.  It’s not that we want people to talk like robots, we love emotion, but unfortunately it does not always translate well into still photography. Be sensitive to how people may be perceived, or how they would feel seeing those photos of themselves. The rule of thumb is; if you don’t want somebody to publish a photo of you looking like that, or expressing yourself in that way, don’t give the client that unflattering photo of the speaker. Wait until you get something better. Put yourself in your subject’s shoes.

Sometimes as corporate and event photographers your job is to make things look better than they actually look in reality. Look for the best in each and every setting and situation, and do your very best to make the event look amazing. Work at flattering your subjects and boost their confidence rather than break it down. Photographers sometimes need to play at being magicians too, but that’s okay. Your clients will love you for it and keep on coming back to you. 

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