A speaker giving a presentation at an event.

Tips on Shooting An Event (Part 2 of 2)

A speaker giving a presentation at an event.

Click the pic for a bigger view

In the first part of this series I shared some tips I’ve learned over the last year shooting events/galas.  That post focused on the gear needed to shoot an event properly.  Today we will continue on with the actual shoot and processing tips.

Shooting An Event

One of the hardest things I had to overcome was changing my mindset on how to shoot an actual event.  Crazy huh.  One of the biggest things to remember is you are shooting marketing material.  These aren’t family portraits or scenic landscapes.  These images are intended to be used on websites and brochures for advertisement.   Everything has to be viewed with this mindset.

Your primary job will be to capture images of the keynote speaker(s).  This is where that 85mm (or larger) will come in handy.  Feel free to approach the stage where the speaker is at and get one or two shots and then back out.  As you move around try and capture various angles.  Again don’t camp out in one location very long.  The guests who are there do not want to hear a shutter going off every few seconds.  Be respectful of that fact that they most likely paid to be there.   However don’t be bashful about floating around.  Most speakers like to move around on stage so you are going to have to stalk them.

The second thing you will learn about shooting speakers is a lot of your images of them will look funny.  Yep, that’s a technical term.  Catching people speaking with a camera takes practice.  So shoot often and get way more than you think you need.  Once you get home you’ll find yourself deleting more than half of them due to the funny/bizarre facial expressions.

Bonus  tip: this doesn’t always work but if it does you can get some great high res low noise images of your speaker.  If you can track them down before the event starts see if they will “pose” at the podium for you.  This is a great time to do this because most likely the ballroom lights will be on giving you the chance to lower your ISO.  Be polite and just ask if they would mimic a few shots like they were addressing the audience.  This will allow you to get great stills (no worrying about funny faces) at a low ISO and no sudden movements from them since they are posing.

Everything else you shoot will for the most part be considered “bonus” material.  Be sure to get a few candids of people during the meet & greets.  Again don’t be bashful here.  Feel free to approach a couple/group and ask politely for a photo op.  If there are silent auction items make sure to grab a few of those.  Here is your chance to be a little creative.  Shoot the items off angle or close up.

Silent auctions items at a charity event.
Shot at the Children's Action Alliance with principle photographer Holly Baumann.
Click the pic for a bigger view

Processing Your Images

This is one of my favorite parts about shooting events.  Processing doesn’t have to be this time consuming thing you dread.  I’m able to process everything using just Lightroom.  Remember you aren’t trying to make the bride glow, its marketing material.   Just get the basics covered along with some noise reduction as these images are going to be shot at high ISOs.

One other thing you may or may not want to do involves cropping.  Normally I try to get my shot framed correctly in the camera and only crop if necessary.  However with events I tend to shoot a little wider so the client has some freedom to crop the image as needed.  You never know exactly how they will use your image rather it be on a website or a print publication.  Giving them a little freedom like this will be greatly appreciated.  And just so they know I do always make it a point to inform them of this freedom.


Hopefully some of this has been helpful to anyone who is thinking of shooting an event or has been hired to shoot one.  I’ve only scratched the surface as their are still many areas to consider (contracts, payment, how images are licensed, etc).  Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

Until next time…


Camera: Canon 5DM2 with a Canon 85mm

Processing: Lightroom 3

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  1. Nice write up here Chris and some good info with some professional looking shots to go along with it. Now if I could just find a corporate event to shoot…

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