Travelling to Africa for a corporate photography event may not be the easiest trip to undertake, so you’ve got to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, your I’s must be dotted and your t’s have to be crossed. Yes, make sure you are well prepared! We have over 10 years of experience photographing in Africa, from Lagos to Kenya, Mozambique to Ethiopia and more.
The clients who send us off to Africa the most are The Economist and The Financial Times, so whenever they have a conference in Africa we need to be there.
We’ve listed a few handy travel tips to make sure that you are as prepared as one can be to do some corporate photography up in Africa!
Remember a black pen – one that works – and then a backup pen as well. You can never carry too many pens! African airports still love the idea of landing cards so you will have to fill them in when you land, and it is quite difficult if you don’t have a pen.
Pack only what you need.
When we photograph an event we only pack 2 camera bodies, 1 Canon 5dmkiv, and a backup body, just in case.
Our favourite lenses for corporate photography are the Canon 24-70mkii F2.8 and the Canon 70-200mkii F2.8. You really don’t need any other lenses to cover a corporate event and deliver beautiful photos.
We take 4 Canon batteries. You will probably only need 2 batteries per day, but make sure to pack your charger for peace of mind.
Pack 1 Canon Flash – you never know what the light is really going to look like. Even though our corporate photography style utilises mostly natural light, there are situations where you need that extra light. To be very honest, a lot of people do still like the flashy look too, so make sure that you are prepared for any situation.
We travel with our trusty Apple MacBook (a laptop) and 1 external hard drive as well as 3 USBs to deliver the photos on. For these conferences, we have to edit on site and deliver the edited photos before we leave.
Protocol, Protocol, Protocol, always remember protocol.
At 99% of corporate events in Africa, you will have politicians attending. Your job as a corporate photographer is to make sure that you capture these politicians with your clients, make sure that you find out who the important people are, and then focus on making sure that you get great corporate photos of them shaking hands, interacting with people, nice podium shots etc. The most important shot will be when the VIP arrives at the venue and is greeted by the event representative – that is usually the photo where you will have most of the important people in one shot.
Here you need to make sure that you make friends with the security guards, and inform them that you are going to take photos of the VIPs. This will minimise the risk of them shoving you out of the way when the VIP walks to the event or greets someone. Be friendly, not arrogant.
Every corporate event where you are commissioned to take corporate photographs usually follow the same recipe; delegates registration, breakfast snacks and networking until the event starts. There is a welcoming and then the opening keynote address. During the keynote, you must only focus on the speaker and get as many different angles as possible. Move around until you find the best angle. Close to the end of his or her speech, grab some nice crowd shots of the people at the VIP tables as most of them will leave right after the speech with the keynote speaker. During the tea break, you have to try to get as many networking shots as people are still happy and excited – during lunch people will start getting tired. We don’t even take photos of the last tea session because people are tired and ready to go home. You don’t want droopy faces on your corporate photos.
When taking corporate photos of the other speakers and panel discussions, make sure that you get nice photos of every single speaker, and keep moving. Do not take photos from the same angle every time, otherwise, it will look like you just sat at one spot during the event.
As a corporate photographer, it is your job to make sure that the corporate event is captured and showcased as a success, with everyone having a good time. Avoid snapping shots of the sleeping delegates, please? Or rather, just don’t show them to the client.
We usually take about 2000 photos per day of a corporate event and aim to give the clients about 250 edited photos. They don’t need more than that, just make sure that your collection shows everything that happened at the event. We edit and deliver the photos on USBs before getting on the flight back home, which means that we have to edit and shoot at the same time. We make sure to get the shots mentioned above and then edit during the sessions so we can deliver the USB 15 minutes after the closing remarks. This enables the client to upload the images to social media quickly while it is still relevant.
If you are interested, have a look at our Flickr account where you can view some of the final corporate photography products that we delivered to our clients: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaimara/albums.
Good luck and safe travels!