Event Photo Secrets Disclosed at Our Panel Discussion

Missed our recent panel discussion about event photography? No worries! We noted all the great ideas and advice from the area experts who were on the panel. Get the inside scoop on how to leverage event photography, what is the most important element in setting up a shot, and what to do with “Uncle Bob”.

“Bringing Your Special Event Into Focus” was a special panel discussion hosted by Event Resources, Inc. and The Society Room of Hartford. Four area professional event photographers, each with a distinctive artistic style, made up the panel. They shared with the audience of event planners their experiences, expertise and yes, pet peeves, about taking photos at special events. The Society Room kicked off the program with a fantastic meal (have you ever had lobster for breakfast?!) to acquaint meeting planners with their outstanding food offerings and first class venue.

Let me first introduce you to the panel of experts:

• Heather Conley of Heather Conley Photography
• Nick Caito of Nick Caito Photography
• Jennifer Fiereck of J.Fiereck Photography
Rich Messina, Photo Editor for The Hartford Courant


It’s Not The Oven That Makes A Great Cake

When guests registered for the panel discussion, they were each asked how they currently take event photographs at their special events. Interestingly, they were almost evenly split between hiring a professional photographer, having their staff take photos, or winging it with their cell phone. When evaluating event photographers, keep in mind that it’s training, experience and artistry that makes a good photographer. Even if you have the best camera in the world, it doesn’t mean a good photo will result. How many people have had “Uncle Bob” at their event? The uncle with the latest and greatest camera equipment that insists on following the professional photographer around and mimicking their photos. But Uncle Bob’s photos never quite measure up to the professional ones. Why? Because the most expensive camera doesn’t lead to the best photos. As one panelist stated, “It’s the chef that is responsible for this great meal today, not the oven!”


Let There Be Light, And Lots of It

Before any special event, sit down with your photographer and review essential items. First and foremost, all the photographers said the most important aspect of any room is the natural and ambient lighting available. Since lighting plays an important role in any photo, they need to know where the light is coming from and what lights they will need to bring up otherwise dim areas. (Hint: Have your event production company throw a light across the audience and capture guest expressions for great photographs.)


Shoot the Shot List

Next, where will the photos be used? Look for opportunities to use them for social media, newsletters, website, annual report, marketing brochures, advertising, etc. This gives more depth and breadth to the shot list the photographer will use during the event. Review this list beforehand so the photographer has a complete grasp of all the photos that are required.

Compile a short list of “must have” photos. Perhaps the VIPs or important guests. Since the photographer doesn’t know who is who, assign a point person to literally point out dignitaries and arrange group photos with names.

One last thing in pre-planning: discuss the event attire. Generally photographers dress in black so as to blend in with the crowd and not attract attention. However, let them know if the event is casual, has a theme (like country) so they may dress accordingly.

Not Everything Can Be PhotoShopped

Photography goes beyond snap and click and the infamous selfie. During an event, a photographer may be creating one or more of these different types of photos, each of which is an art form in itself (another reason their expertise is crucial):

Portraits: Step and repeat as the guests walk into the room
Groups Organized groups of people or speakers.
Photo Journalism: Unstaged and purely natural.
Detailed: Close ups of awards, food, etc.

Speaker shots are also key to many events. To keep the shot clean, make sure there isn’t anything that is on the lectern (like a water bottle). If possible, remove the iPad from the lectern since it casts a blue glow on the speakers face. Photoshop can’t fix everything! Shots of the entire room are also standard at any event. To make these more interesting, try shooting at different angles (low, through the crowd, and from a balcony) for different perspectives.


Getting Your 15 Minutes of Fame

Sadly, The Hartford Courant doesn’t accept any event photos for print publication. They may, however, send one of their own photographers to take photos of your event. To ask for consideration, send an email to photos@courant.com. Any event can be newsworthy – even photos of setup are interesting as they build up anticipation for a big event. If you would like to submit your photos for the Hartford Courant’s “Reminder News”, which accepts local news and photos, click here or send them to community@courant.com for possible use online.


Running the Hurdles

Photo obstacles present themselves without warning at any type of event. For example, security personnel prohibits the photographer from getting close to the subject, or maybe it’s even the Secret Service that holds them back. (Ok, they’re entitled.) A speaker may show up late and accelerate/change the entire schedule and timetable for photos. Be careful when there are other companies displaying their goods and services. They will need to complete permission release forms so photographs can be taken of their booth and/or products. And of course, there is Uncle Bob following the photographer around.

Another challenge are the hordes of guests crowding around the professional photographer so they can shoot their own photo. Now we’ve all done this at one time or another, at a wedding for instance. How do you deal with lots of guests (and Uncle Bob) using their cameras? First, ask them politely to wait until the photographer “has done their job” before they start snapping away. Or, have an ”unplugged rule”. Ask guests to put their iPads, mobile phones and personal cameras away during the most important part of the program. Flashes from these devices are disruptive and can interfere with professional flashes. Not to mention that people just plain get in the way. Also, the event may have some sensitive information being presented, so you don’t want people taking photos and uploading them to social media networks before express permission has been granted, or the organizer has posted them first.


Copy This©

If you aren’t aware, clients who hire photographers don’t automatically own the rights to the images a photographer takes. Here’s the breakdown of who legally owns the copyright for a photo unless they officially waive the rights:

• If you take a photo for yourself, you own the copyright.
• If you take a photo as part of a full time job, your employer owns the copyright.
• If you hire an event photographer, the photographer owns the copyright unless they waive it in a written contract.

It’s important that permission releases and licensing terms be worked out prior to the event. For a more detailed explanation of photo copyrights, click here.


Get Your Invitation!

As you can see, this panel discussion was rich in information for event planners. This was the seventh in a serious of educational events from Event Resources, Inc. To insure you receive an invitation to future events, just sign up for our newsletter and mailing list.


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