Corporate Event Photography



April 11, 2018
by  Miki van Rooyen

How to cover a corporate event

Everyone thinks corporate event photography is easier than wedding photography…

It is not.

At a wedding everyone and everything is pretty, at a corporate event you have a nice stage (if you are lucky) and some delegates.

Your job as a corporate photographer is to make the event look better than it actually is.

Here are some tips that we live by when photographing an event.

  • Stating the obvious, but always make sure you have the correct gear for the event. A lot of our corporate events entails shooting in low light, and having to sneak in candid shots. For this we love using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens. It is super sharp, and the f/2.8 is great for low light situations.

  • Another favourite is the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM lens. It is so versatile, it makes it possible to cover an entire conference with just the one lens.

  • Another obvious, though important one; make sure you have enough batteries and memory cards.

  • Don't stop shooting until you have got the perfect shot. Move around, check your angles. An average shot is not good enough. You have to keep moving. Don't take the shot, and just go sit and play on your phone. Watch people, search for light.

  • Some of our best corporate shots have come from a long time waiting for the perfect shot - wait for your subject to smile or talk in the right way, for them to look in the correct direction to make that one perfect shot.

  • Always get the basic "expected" photos and then go for the creative ones; try and use the available ambient light to your advantage.

  • We prefer natural light, but again, you need a good lens, and more importantly, a steady hand. Practice shooting at a slow shutter speed. A shutter speed of between 1/20 and 1/80 are where you want to be. The shutter is slow enough to allow the ambient light in. The slower the shutter speed, the more ambient light you get.

  • If you need to use a flash, which has its place, please don't flash directly at your subject. The flash is always pointed up. Again, make use of a slow shutter speed to allow the light from the flash to travel to your subject.

  • Don't be afraid to stand in front of people. Many times you will have to stand in front of someone in order to get the shot. Try to be mindful, but if you have to block someone's view of the speaker for a few minutes so you can get your shot, they will just have to understand, that is just part of corporate event photography.

  • Some companies, like The Economist, build beautiful stages with great lighting. Some stages are ugly and dark. If it is an attractive stage, show it. If not, hide it by framing the speaker/subject with people or objects. You can even use a water bottle in front of the lens to make the shot look interesting.

  • Make sure the speaker looks good. Sure not all people look good talking, but wait for the shot. Make sure you get a flattering photo. Be kind.

  • You MUST get the shot. You are the photographer, commissioned to do the work. If you don't get the shot because you were too afraid of some or the other thing, you disappoint the client and miss the opportunity to get a great shot.

Here are some examples and explanations of how we got some of these shots.

Example 1 - Photo from Financial Times

Corporate Event Photography Financial Times

This photo did not happen by accident, it was not a lucky shot. This person looked the other way all through the panel discussion, but just for a few seconds he turned his face the other way and smiled. I spent about 15min on my knees looking through my viewfinder, waiting for him to turn his head the other way. This shot was photographed like this, there was no cropping afterwards. Note the "Financial Times" at the bottom of the photo. It shows a beautiful, flattering expression, and lets you know where this was taken. Perfect.


Example 2 - Photo from The Economist

Corporate Event Photography The Economist

Here we got all the boring, normal angles of the guest speaker. I then started walking up and down the venue to see if I can get something different. I finally went to the edge of the stage and saw how nice the spotlight fell on the edge of his face and took this great photo! If you don’t move around, you won’t see different angles.


Example 3 - Photo from Amazon Web Services

Corporate Event Photography Amazon

This is a photo of a delegate at the Amazon web services conference in Cape Town. The room was extremely dark and the only ambient light came from the stage. I had to photograph this at 1/15 F2.8, ISO 3200 to give the stage light enough time to travel to my subject. If I used a flash I would have blown out all the ambient light, and the photograph would have lost its mood.



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