I photograph a considerable amount of corporate events annually and in each case there are a variety of critical moments that need to be covered, from break-out sessions to networking, awards presentations to keynote speakers. In some cases, the event is arranged so that there are several speakers in a row and from an event photographers’ viewpoint, the key to making the images memorable and compelling as opposed to repetitive and uninteresting, is to cover the speakers from every angle and perspective.
Larger events have more allowance where I can cover the room from one side to the next and front to back while being unobtrusive whereas with smaller events it’s imperative to get the photographic coverage keeping in mind never to draw attention to yourself. The idea is to simply blend in and be stealth.
Covering speaker sessions, I mostly rely on a longer telephoto, 70-200mm for tighter audience and speaker photos and move to the 24-70 for full-room shots. In order not miss a beat, I carry two camera bodies with lenses attached using the Spider Pro camera holster which may be the best purchase I’ve made this year to date. The cameras with attached lenses and battery grips can begin to feel excessively heavy during a 10 hour day but with the holster balancing the weight on both hips, I can last so much longer and without the strain of carrying gear via shoulder straps. Changing between bodies is super fast and much preferred to swapping lenses using one camera body, not to mention so much safer as I can attest to dropping at least one lens on the ground at a conference when trying to do a lens swap. Sure, it’s a little lighter but after ponying up the $600 to repair that lens, the dual system is now my go to method.
I also play around quite a bit with apertures while covering an event. First, I’ll adjust the exposure settings for a normal depth of field at f/5.6 and move between this number and f/2.8 depending on my subject. If I’m highlighting the full audience, I’m at 5.6, for an individual audience member, I’m at f/2.8. That full-stop shift can create a frame around the individual audience member and when I can catch them at the right moment, it makes for an impactful image.
As for on-camera flash, I do carry this on my camera, typically on the shorter lens but rarely have I ever used this in a meeting as it’s distracting and doesn’t give me the reach I need when shooting further into a crowd. With most corporate events, there is ample available light to simply bump up the ISO, engage the lens’ image stabilizer and play with the depth of field.
Once I get an overall feel for where the camera settings need to be and where I can take them, I start to move around the room so as to photograph the event from every angle. I’ll move to the front, both middle, right and left sides. I’ll go directly parallel with the speaker to photograph them from the side. In some cases, I may be able to move behind the stage and shoot through the stage paneling for a silhouette. And then it’s on to the middle of the room where if a seat is available, I’ll shoot through the audience members, using their heads and shoulders to frame the speaker….a look I’m very fond of as it captures the speaker from the audiences’ perspective.
And last but not least, the full room shots covered from the front of the stage and also photographed from the back of the audience. Every detail that goes into these presentations needs to be covered including the powerpoint and graphs displayed on the stage screening. Capturing the speaker with the stage displays puts the images into context that highlights the messages of the conference.
The images that I supply from each corporate event are used to engage followers in social media during the event as well as to promote these conferences and conventions for the upcoming years. With as much planning that takes part before I even enter the scene, it’s essential to appreciate the details and supply event coverage that reflects continuous audience engagement and speakers that are captivating. Granted, this may not always be the case as there have been plenty of assignments I have taken on that are a little less exciting and very low-key. So, I keep shooting, wait patiently, play with angles, change my settings and offer a variety of images that are both compelling and illustrate the essentials of each corporate event.