After completing the strenuous walk across Sydney’s CBD attempting to rationalise the exorbitant parking fee I payed for in a Wilsons Car Park, I finally arrive at the door. Canapé’s, wine and aristocratic laughter characterise the room. I survey my surroundings, every guest at this event probably earns double my annual salary.
The CEO notices me, his suit as crisp as a new banknote. He commences his walk, strutting with the confidence of someone who is in complete command of his thoughts and actions, certain of his abilities and extends his hand. “You must be our photographer”. I’m sure many corporate photographers can relate to my opening moments of my corporate photography career and will attest that it to be an intimidating scene to adapt to. It is not hard to think you’ve sufficiently covered an event because you’ve taken 400 photos to receive the shock of your life when you import them into Lightroom only to realise they all look the same. Not only does this look bad on you, but this will also have detrimental repercussions on your client when they try to use the content you captured to market their event and enjoy minimal success.
So what can you do during your event to retain your clients and stand out amongst your competitors?
Whilst staged photographs are certainly vital in gaining a complete coverage of an event, a staged photograph will often fail to replicate genuine emotions embedded within a candid reaction. Ensure you stand far away from your subject as they may become awkward when they realise they are being photographed. The best way to achieve a candid reaction is through anticipation. One way I achieve this is by making a reasonable assumption as to when a punch line of a joke is being delivered in a speech, allowing me to have already focused on my target prior to their reaction and instantly capture it the moment their response occurs.
Here I’d recommend the use of a 70-200 lens for optimal distance and a low aperture to achieve a nice bokeh. Unlike a wedding reception, moments of laughter and enjoyment can be incredibly scarce so preparation is ultimately vital to maximise your greatest chance of providing the client with an engaging highlight reel of their event. Look for networking shots and people having fun, and if you take nothing else away from this piece, DO NOT take photographs of people eating - this is a cardinal sin.
Incorporate Client Branding
Capturing your client’s brand during a corporate event is a primary reason as to why you’re being employed to shoot at their event as the business is likely to utilise your work to perpetuate their brand’s image. To impress your client, you want to ensure that the organisations’ logo appears in as many photographs as possible. Businesses typically orchestrate this process by setting up a media wall which you should look to capture as many guests as possible amongst, especially the VIP guests. This will also serve to simplify your editing process now that you are able to synchronise your edit as a result of a consistent background. Here I would use a 24-70 lens to enable a wide group shot and ensure the media wall is fully captured. Beyond a media wall, attempt to locate signage, custom designed menus and any other form of branding featured within the event and surprise the client with branding material they could not have dreamed of. Get creative!
When you are photographing a corporate event, you can be sure that people will be watching you at all times.
Whether it be as simple as dressing appropriately or using your manners, you want to ensure your service is remembered for the right reasons. You will quickly find that corporate guests will refuse to have their photo taken more often than guests at a night club or wedding, accept their desires and move on. Do not interject or interrupt guests’ conversations and wait patiently until you are invited to speak. When your time to speak arrives, use manners, be polite and go beyond expectation to respect your client’s guests to ensure they feel comfortable around you. Achieving this will reflect well on your employer and maximise your likelihood of being hired again.