Ask the Expert: Capture the Right Shots When You’re On-Site

By Kayla Prasek

Kayla Prasek

Q: We are doing our event photography in-house rather than hiring a professional. How can we make our amateur shots look more professional?

A: Occasionally small events don’t call for professional photography, but we still want eye-catching images to engage with our members on social media. There are several things we can do to help us capture an event like a pro!

First, assign this duty to ONE PERSON only. This role is not suited for someone who already has a large and tasking position at the event because it is time consuming. Doing the pre-work of creating a shot is important because it will ensure you get all the shots you need.

Once a lead has been assigned and a shot list is created there are three techniques to keep in mind while shooting to achieve great images:

  1. Keep it straight. A dead giveaway of an amateur behind the camera is a tilted shot. Pay attention to the lines on the walls or of the chair backs in the room and ensure when you set up your shot that all vertical and horizontal lines in the room are straight.
  2. Fill the frame. A dilemma I often run into as a professional photographer is empty rooms. Empty rooms are bad for business when it comes to events so when you run into this problem slowly walk the back of the room looking for an angle where three (3) or more heads line up with the speaker falling between them. Lower your angle by crouching down and use those 3+ heads to make it look like your speaker is speaking to a crowded room.
  3. Catch them by surprise. Candid shots during networking opportunities always make for captive images. It isn’t always easy to get people to not notice you – and as soon as they see a camera, what do they do? They turn and smile, and that great candid moment is lost forever. A great way to get around this is to shoot with gear that can reach across a room. A simple SLR camera with a long zoom lens will do the trick. Find an elevated spot in the room like a stage or chair that isn’t being used and zoom in across the room so no one knows who you are photographing.

These three tips alone will improve your staff images tremendously and keeping the same lead show after show will give your team member a chance to practice and improve. As an amateur shooting it is important to remember that you’ll only regret the shots you didn’t take so snap away and have some fun with it!

Q: We are hiring a photographer for an event. What questions should I ask to find out if they are a good fit for me? How do I best communicate my expectations and needs so that my association gets the content it needs?

A: In my industry, you can throw a stone and hit a photographer so how will you know which ones are actually qualified and have the experience needed to capture your event? In the planning stage, talk to multiple photographers either in person or on the phone. Have multiple people from your team interact with the potential photographer before actually hiring them. Events are hectic and stressful, so you want to make sure the person you bring in clicks with the team and that working together will be an enjoyable experience. Once you have someone that clicks (no pun intended), ask for samples of their work and 2-3 references of past EVENT clients.

Once you’ve booked your photographer, there are things you can do to ensure their success in capturing your event: 

  1. Lay out your expectations and share them with your photographer.  It seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how often this step is missed. Do you need them to capture every break out session or is there only one or two key ones? Do you have speakers who will want your photographer to share images with them? Is it important that none of your attendees are photographed with drinks in the hand? All of these are key details to properly capturing events and you can never give TOO MUCH detail.
  2. Provide them with an itinerary of events and list what photos from each session you’d like. Spend time discussing your goals with your photographer before the show. What will you be using the photos you receive for? To promote the event? To line up sponsors for future years? For branding or as a way to add to your attendee experience? All of this information will change the way your photographer approaches shooting your event and the images they choose to capture. 
  3. Lastly, you should always plan a walk-through of the event space the night before or a few hours before the start of your event. Have your schedule with you and walk them to each room you all will be utilizing and talk about your must have photos for each. Your photographer is a part of your team, and the more information you can share with them the more successful they’ll be.

After you have completed steps 1-3, step back and RELAX. Enjoy having one less thing on your plate during the show. Once you get your images back provide feedback to your photographer so they can capture your event even better the next year! 

Kayla Prasek is owner of Kayla Prasek Photography, where she specializes in event, wedding and portrait photography. She can be reached at [email protected] and www.kpphotographydesigns.com.

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