Here in Chicago, there are an innumerable amount of corporate events that happen throughout the year. My assignments have ranged from small christmas parties at a brewery along the Magnificent Mile to international conventions hosted at McCormick Place that last nearly a week. In each case, the parameters are always incredibly different but the way to go about preparing for the job to completing the assignment are essentially the same.
The first thing I like to cover once the client(s) and I come to an agreement on the rate and usage is to go over the event in detail. I have a list of to-do’s and questions that I go over with my clients just to make sure we are all prepared.
1. First, we develop a schedule of the event that includes where I need to be and when in addition to any attendees or speakers who are of particular importance. This way, I am where I need to be when I am needed most and focus on who might need more photographic coverage.
2. Discuss the dress code. Yes, this may seem obvious and of course the look always needs to be professional but it is also crucial to blend in. The key is to be unobtrusive, so wearing a business suit may not be the best idea when covering a golf outing or walkathon.
3. Take some time to scout the location together.
- This is a must and really can take just a few minutes. The key is to find the perfect spots where I can get the best photos while at the same time being as unnoticeable as possible. As each assignment varies, it becomes very easy to anticipate if there is room to move more freely or if I need to stay put.
4. Photographing corporate events can be inherently difficult as the lighting from room to room can change greatly and in some cases be almost non-existent. In this case, I rely on on-camera flash.
- Technically, I prefer to use flash as I can then change my ISO settings to a lower sensitivity which consequently produces images that are less grainy.
- As flash can be distracting, it is imperative for the client to know, especially when photographing meetings, that flash will be necessary but I am also careful not to allow too much use to become invasive.
5. Be accessible at all times to each other.
- There is always something that comes up that may have been unanticipated. A key moment that defines the event itself. So, always keep your cell on hand, on vibrate, just in case. I could be in another room finishing up some general promo shots when the keynote speaker is having a moment with the CEO. I can always be reached and it helps to know I am not far when the next photo opportunity presents itself.
The key to providing exceptional corporate event photography is not only to cover this checklist but to anticipate our clients’ needs and adapt accordingly. This is what sets commercial photographers apart.