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Event Photographer London – 5 Top Tips for Successful Event Photography

Nick Robinson photographed at London event at Houses of Parliament

Nick Robinson at London event held at The House of Commons

Event Photographer London – 5 Top Tips for Successful Event Photography

 

How does a professional event photographer capture the best event photographs on the day?

Event photography can be challenging in lots of ways, some events are very crowded media affairs, with lots of people meeting and greeting, under difficult lighting conditions.

The photographs shown in this blog post for example were taken at the Houses of Parliament which has attractive fluorescent strip lighting throughout. There are often key personnel that need to be photographed who are very well known to the client but of course less recognisable to the photographer, so what to do?

1. Event Photography in a Crowded Space

To get complete photographic coverage in a crowded space can be complicated.  In this environment it’s well worth shooting on one small camera that is held up to your face nearly the whole time.

It is easy with large, heavy cameras with zoom lenses dangling from the photographer’s shoulders to knock a waiter (with a tray of drinks) or jab someone in the hip while they are in earnest discourse with a celebrity or VIP, neither of these accidents will win be popular with the client. The one camera held higher up technique helps the photographer weave through a crowd, with the camera ready to shoot and not prone to getting anything spilt on it for that matter.

London event photography of guests at Houses of Parliament

2. Lighting Issues During a Corporate Event

Lighting issues can be tricky to solve, some venues have high ceilings and spotlights and some low with fluorescent tubes or anything in-between, so each has to be judged on its own merits. I prefer to photograph without flash where possible as it is far less disruptive and more discreet which is favoured by clients for a natural set of photographs. If the lighting is truly horrendous then a small flash is necessary, perhaps bounced off the ceiling to diffuse it. Using flash is hardly discreet however, so a last resort.

If the lighting is uniform but poor in colour temperature i.e. too red looking from traditional tungsten bulbs or blue from the newer energy bulbs, then the photographer should set a manual colour balance on the camera. Setting a colour balance will ensure all the images look fine immediately in post-production. Most photographers do not set a colour balance manually but use auto on their cameras, for them each image is assessed by the camera every time the shutter is pressed and each frame will vary in colour cast, making for an inconsistent set of images.

I shoot on a manual colour temperature and carry out quick, global final colour changes during processing in the professional photography software package – Lightroom.

Event photographer London - guests at evening party

3. Photography of Key VIP’s and Celebrities

Finding the key people to photograph during the event is often crucial. If there is a list of people that must be photographed, preferably whilst engaged in animated conversation with an Ambassador or rock star, then an assistant is necessary to point out the key individuals.

As the photographer, being given a sheet of paper with small mug shots of the key people rarely works as the photographs are usually years old, and the people are wearing different clothing in different light. So, it really slows everything down when trying to match up a face with someone who has dyed their hair or grown a beard, or both.

A company staff member can be crucial as another pair of eyes, this frees the photographer up to spend more time shooting and less time working out who is who. An assistant means all those on the list can be photographed over the course of the evening, and don’t forget the best images happen towards the end of the event when all the guests are much more animated and ignore the photographer completely, so that’s when it is necessary to move fast to get the best possible images.

Nick Robinson Photographed at London event

4. Staged Photography During the Event

The company which has commissioned the coverage on the day will often require coverage of an important speech, a formal greeting, or a small group shot of key people these shots will be required for a press release or marketing materials, and should be discussed with the photographer and planned beforehand so that branding, lighting and backdrop can be considered.

The people involved in the posed set photographs should be informed too, and told when they might take place and where. Then there are no surprises and the people are happy to break off from who they were talking to, move to an ideal location which has been chosen and get the all-important PR shot taken as quickly and efficiently as possible. Lighting too can be setup and tested beforehand if required so that all the kit can be ready for those few precious moments when everyone is looking at the camera, no blinks and smiling.

Speaker at event photographed at Houses of Parliament in London

5. Fast Turnaround of the Final photographs

Often businesses require fast turnaround of the photographs almost immediately after the event has ended. This is another consideration that requires thought before the event. Is there decent reliable WiFi at the venue? If so what is the name and password required? The house manager will have gone home or will be nowhere to be found when the press release has to go out later that evening.

Again, a client-side assistant is helpful as the handful of images that need to go out should be signed off by someone other than the photographer. A portfolio enhancing shot of a celebrity may not be as important as one of the CEO for the press the next day.

Summary of Successful Event Photography

Event photography can be more than just a simple record of a drink’s reception, the images can be used for effective PR, help illustrate a marketing newsletter or enhance company unity when on a company’s intranet. So, there should be some thought and planning beforehand as to who would be good to capture and with whom.

The photographer will set about providing an excellent full set of images of the party or conference.

photography of London event at Houses of Parliament outside with Thames behindConference Photography of speaker at Houses of Parliament in LondonAudience photographed listening to speaker at London eventSpeaker at London evening event at Houses of ParliamentGuest photographed in conversation at evening event in LondonHouses of Parliament exterior at evening eventGuests outside during London event next to the Thames at the Houses of Parliament   Guests photographed in conversation during London party at Houses of Parliament Evening event photography in London Politician photographed in conversation at party at Houses of Parliament Guest photography in London at event Event Photography at Houses of Parliament in London
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I prefer to photograph without flash where possible as it is far less disruptive and more discreet which is favoured by clients for a natural set of photographs. If the lighting is truly horrendous then a small flash is necessary, perhaps bounced off the ceiling to diffuse it. Using flash is hardly discreet however, so a last resort. - Douglas, Photographer