Corporate photography can be a great way to build brand awareness and generate leads. But it can also be a headache if you don’t plan things out ahead of time. In this post I will outline some important corporate photography tips for getting great photos.
1 – Basics Of Corporate Event Photography
Corporate event photography is a serious responsibility. Prior to accepting a photography job, make certain that you have the proper equipment and technique if you’ve been hired or volunteered to photograph an event. Photographing outside portraits does not automatically imply being able to photograph any event. Many corporate events are held indoors with very little natural light, so knowing how to work in low-light conditions and how to use an external flash is essential.
Event photography necessitates knowledge of more than just the tools and techniques you use. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most important event photography tips I’ve learned:
1. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to dress professionally and blend in with the rest of the group. As a result, you’ll need to dress appropriately. Men must wear a suit or tuxedo to most corporate events, and women must wear a formal dress. Other occasions call for “business casual” attire, in which case a suit is appropriate. However, don’t make assumptions – call the event organizer ahead of time to learn the dress code. Even when everyone is dressed to the nines, a photographer shows up in a pair of jeans and a pair of sneakers. Also, make certain that your clothing and footwear are spotless.
2. Pre-scout the venue and evaluate lighting conditions, if at all possible. Obtain advance permission from the event’s organizers so you can see the location and prepare for your shoot. If you’re working indoors or at night, you’ll want to know if there’s a lot of ambient light or very little. This is critical information to have because you’ll have to bring the appropriate tools to the job. If you’re unable to attend the event because of some unforeseen circumstance, ask the organizer and the venue’s owners/management for as much information as you can.
3. Request from the event organizer a detailed schedule of the event. You must be aware of what is happening and when, as well as when they require your assistance.
4. Learn who is in charge and who you should focus on. Request an introduction to senior management from your event organizer. In general, the “big guys” are easy to identify by the way they speak and dress, but knowing who to photograph is still important.
5. Refrain from interfering with crucial conversations. How involved someone is in conversing with another individual or group will tell you whether or not the conversation is important. You’ll get their attention and even a photo op if you approach them in a relaxed manner. You don’t have to draw attention to yourself, so try to blend in as much as possible.
6. When a photographer tries to pitch in and engage in a conversation at a corporate event or party, it irritates the living daylights out of me. It’s understandable that people won’t show their irritation or concern out of courtesy, but it’s an extremely poor choice nonetheless. Someone will seek out your advice if they require it.
7. Keep your mouth shut if someone offers you some alcohol. Neither do you nor anyone else wants to be bothered by a buzzed photographer.
8. Before the event, eat a healthy lunch or dinner. If the event goes on for a long time and you are offered food, go to a different area away from the crowd and eat there.
9. People eating food should not have their pictures taken while doing so. Would you mind if someone snapped a photo of you while you were savoring a treat?
10. Be as polite as possible, even if the other person is rude to you. Don’t hesitate to take someone’s photo if they ask you to.
11. Taking pictures of people will not get you arrested. Observe your surroundings for interesting things to photograph and take pictures of them. It is important to remember to take pictures of cakes before they are cut if you’re attending a celebration that includes one.
Other than that, you get the idea – just do your best to represent yourself as a true professional and you will be rewarded with great pictures, future opportunities and plenty of business referrals! Do your best to represent yourself as a true professional.
2 – Photo Equipment
When it comes to event photography, the gear you use is critical. When working in low-light conditions, you’ll want to have a variety of tools on hand in addition to a good camera and lenses.
2.1 – Best Camera
Obviously, a professional camera will be required – forget about photographing corporate events with a point and shoot. I would recommend two cameras, one with a wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens, even though you can get away with just one camera body and lens. You won’t have to swap lenses as often, and you’ll be able to capture any action right away. In addition, the second camera body will serve as a standby in the event that the first one fails.
A low-noise DSLR camera that can shoot at ISO 800 and above without introducing a lot of noise to the picture is what I recommend for a camera. Most people would prefer to use a full-frame camera like the Nikon D700, but cameras with crop sensors such as the Canon 5D2, or the Nikon D3, or the Nikon D3, would also work if there was enough light or an external flash was used. The difference in image quality won’t be that noticeable if you use an external flash with your DSLR. The majority of event photographers work with a full frame camera as their primary camera and a smaller, lighter backup camera for emergencies.
2.2 – Best Lenses
Lenses that work well in low light and produce pleasing bokeh are those that are of professional quality. A portrait lens and a wide-angle lens are a must have for any serious photographer (for groups and extreme close-ups). Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Nikon 85mm f/1.4/1.8, and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 are three of my favorite prime lenses for event photography. However, Canon has a slight advantage when it comes to prime lenses, with Canon 50mm f/1.2/1.4, Canon 85mm f/1.2/1.8, and a 70-200mm f2.8 zoom.
If I’m using a full-frame body, I’ll use the Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 and if I’m shooting DX, the Nikon 17-35mm F/2.8 or the Nikon 17-55mm F/2.8 are my go-to lenses. Canon offers a similar Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, as well as the excellent Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 and Canon 17-40mm f/4.0 zooms.
If I must only bring one lens, it will be the Nikon 50mm f/1.4. It performs admirably in low light and creates beautiful creamy backgrounds.
2.3 – External Flash
An external flash is a must unless you’re shooting outside in the middle of the day. Your camera’s built-in flash won’t cut it for event photography, and you shouldn’t use direct flash either because it will cast unflattering shadows and change the color of your subjects’ skin. A flash with an adjustable head will allow you to bounce light off of white ceilings and walls for a more natural look and feel, as well as casting very soft shadows on your subjects. Canon cameras should use the 600EX-RT flash, while Nikon cameras should use the SB-5000. However, keep in mind that neither the Nikon SB-700 AF nor Canon 430EX III has an external battery pack slot and has a longer flash recycle time if you do not require a lot of flash power. Another popular external flash is the Quantum Q-Flash, which many professionals prefer to Nikon or Canon models.
In the event that flash photography is prohibited, you’ll need to talk to the event organizer about bringing in more continuous light (such as video light) or increasing the room’s ambient light level. If that’s the case, a DSLR camera with a fast lens and low noise will come in handy.
With flashes, you can also illuminate the subject’s eyes, which is useful.
2.4 – Off-Camera Flash
You may be asked to take pictures of guests as they arrive in a specific area if you’re lucky. If you’re only going to be shooting from one spot, consider using an off-camera flash to get better lighting. While bouncing light off the ceiling or a wall results in nice-looking photos, the best way to get great-looking portraits is still to use an off-camera flash.
If I need to quickly set up an off-camera light, I always have an umbrella kit with me. A low-cost off-camera flash kit costs under $500.
For off-camera flash, here’s what I carry:
These PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers are always there when you need them. One will go on your camera’s hotshoe, and the other will work as a “embedded slave” in your off-camera flash. This is the most expensive part of the kit.
Several of these Manfrotto 5001B light stands have been in my possession, and they’ve proven to be both lightweight and dependable. In the past, I’ve also used “Impact,” which is a much more affordable option. They’re also excellent.
When it comes to using flash photography, I prefer to use the Westcott 43′′ White Umbrella with Removable Black Cover. It’s small and lightweight, so I keep it on me at all times. Most importantly, it’s only $24.95!
An adapter for connecting an umbrella (Manfrotto 026) is required.
Using a Stroboframe Shoe, you can attach the umbrella adapter to an external flash unit.
A few minutes of your time are all it takes to put together the above components!
2.5 – Other Accessories
1. Plus, don’t forget to bring extra batteries for your cameras and flashes. If the event will last for a long time, bring your chargers along so you can recharge your devices while you are waiting for the next event to begin. Towards the end of the event, some events will have “award ceremonies,” so be sure to bring enough batteries to last through that time period. With a camera battery grip, you won’t have to worry about swapping batteries between shots because you can use two batteries instead of just one.
2. The battery pack for your flash will come in handy if you plan on taking pictures inside. With a good battery pack, your flash’s recycle time will be shortened and the battery will last much longer.
3. Flash brackets are commonly used by event photographers to reduce red-eye and produce more realistic shadows. If you can’t bounce your flash because of the height or color of the ceiling, a flash bracket is a must-have. Look through the available options for custom flash brackets and pick one that best suits your needs. A cable to connect your camera’s hotshoe to the flash will also be required.
4. Be sure to pack plenty of extra memory cards for your camera.
5. Get a good on-location backup solution for your photos, or use two memory cards in your camera to save copies of your work.
6. With the right lighting gear, you’ll always be prepared. When taking portraits, some photographers prefer to use ring flashes like the Ray Flash.
7. Video lights may be required if the lighting is bad enough.
3 – Camera Settings
What are the optimal camera settings and why? For me, there are two camera settings for different lighting situations: one for low light and another for flash. There are some differences between the two cameras, despite the fact that most of the camera settings are the same.
Here are a few options I’d recommend keeping the same:
1. RAW format provides the highest possible image quality. Find out why RAW is better.
2. Auto (Automatic White Balancing). I leave White Balance alone and deal with it in the editing stage. My shooting style shifts frequently, so I prefer to leave the exposure compensation on “Auto” and make adjustments in Lightroom later.
3. Beep: Beep is not activated. If you’re still using your beep, turn it off. The sound of your camera beeping is grating after a few minutes of shooting.
4. On/Off Switch for Active D-Lighting: (Nikon only). There’s no need to have it on if you’re shooting RAW.
Except for the following, the settings remain as they were when you first installed the software.
3.1 – Camera Mode
When I’m not using a flash or a tripod, I shoot in “Aperture Priority” mode. This mode is ideal for low-light situations because the aperture can be adjusted to suit the desired depth of field. In order to get the best results when using flash, I always shoot in “Manual” mode with shutter speeds ranging from 1/50 to 1/200. The lens has an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/5.6.
3.2 – ISO Sensitivity
Whenever I don’t have a flash, I use “Auto ISO” and set it to 3200 on FX or 800 on DX. I also set the “Minimum shutter speed” to 1/50th second when shooting without the flash. If your hands are shaky, consider using a higher minimum shutter speed, such as 1/100. It’s best to set ISO to 200 when using a flash because auto ISO will overexpose your photos. When using a flash, there may be times when I need to increase the ISO to 400 or 800, but for the most part, I prefer to keep it at 100.
3.3 – Focusing
Keeping your subject in focus in dimly lit areas can be difficult. If you use an aperture between f/1.4 and f/2.8, you run the risk of getting a mushy image if your focus shifts. Use external flash if your shutter speed drops below 1/50th of a second and your aperture is already close to its maximum value. When it comes to focusing, I rarely use the shutter button on my camera; instead, I use the “AF” button on the back. As a result, I’m able to focus and recompose the image as necessary. Most DSLR cameras allow you to switch the focus function from the shutter to a dedicated button on the back of the camera, so I recommend giving it a shot and seeing how it works for you.
The “Continuous” servo mode (AF-C) is what I prefer to use when my subjects move. Nikon DSLRs have a Continuous Servo mode that can be activated by simply moving the switch on the front of the camera to the “C” position.
3.4 – Metering
When it comes to metering, I’ve found that Matrix (or “Evaluative” in Canon lingo) works best. The only exception is when I’m shooting without a flash and the subject has a bright background on the back; in that case, I switch to spot metering and let the background slightly overexpose. Since I always shoot in manual mode when using flash, metering isn’t an issue for me.
4 – Composition, Background And Bokeh
Despite the fact that your primary focus is on people, don’t forget about composition and make an effort to inject some originality into your images. If you only send your client photos with people in the center of the frame, it will get old fast. Every now and then, try framing your shot differently and shifting your position to avoid having a cluttered background behind your subjects. While creating a background can be difficult, especially in crowded areas where people are constantly on the move, it is something you should give your best shot at. To get a better shot, ask your subjects to move around if you notice a better background or lighting. They’ll be happy to oblige. However, this does not imply that you should be rearranging people’s schedules in order to get the perfect shot!
Focus on bokeh and make sure you get a creamy, soft bokeh when using 50mm/85mm prime lenses or the 70-200mm telephoto. For single shots, I’ve found that apertures between f/2.0 and f/4.0 produce the best-looking bokeh.
5 – Group Shots
Group shots are the most difficult for me, especially when there are a lot of people and the ambient light is low. You should always be prepared for these types of shots, so be sure to ask the event organizer about them in advance.
I prefer shooting groups in the open air because I don’t have to worry about lighting setup or even distribution of light. You’ll have the most trouble getting a group together and having them all look good in your photos if you’re taking pictures of them outside. Talk to your group and think of a couple of funny jokes to get everyone in the mood to laugh. In order to avoid having fake smiles and stupid faces, do not simply ask for the “cheese” moment. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures and to shoot quickly. Then you’ll still have something to work with even if some of the group members start to lose interest.
Indoor group photography is a difficult task to master. How many people will be in your group? The room’s dimensions? Lighting? Does it have drop ceilings? These are all things you’ll need to know. The best way to take group photos is to bounce the light off of the slanted ceilings. A single flash may be sufficient for a small or medium-sized gathering of 8-10 people if the light is bounced off a white ceiling. Keep the group as compact as possible by having them stand in multiple rows, as close as possible to one another.
Set up two or three light stands with external flashes for a large group in three rows and use manual mode at quarter or half power with them pointed at a 30-45 degree angle towards the group. Obviously, flash power depends on ambient light levels, so experiment with those in advance to ensure you’re bouncing enough light off the ceiling onto your subjects. If your flashes aren’t putting out enough power, try raising the ISO on your camera. The light should bounce off the group and hit the middle (middle row), not the front or back. As a result, the light will illuminate everyone in the group evenly. It is possible that you will need to use flash gels if the room is lit by fluorescent lights.
A simple lighting diagram for group shots is provided below:
Dropped ceiling rooms are depicted in the above diagram. In order to land on the center row, the flashes are angled upwards at a 30-45 degree angle.
A ladder is a must-have for group portraits, regardless of whether you’re shooting inside or outside.
Lens-wise, you’ll want to use your wide-angle lens to get the entire group in the frame while also getting the most depth of field possible. Avoid using ultra-wide angle lenses with focal lengths less than 24mm on full frame sensors and 18mm on crop sensors to avoid distorting the faces of your subjects. For these types of shots, I prefer the results I get with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
6 – Flash Photography Tips
Listed below are a few pointers for shooting events indoors:
+ Using TTL (through the lens) mode will give you consistently good results if you bounce the light off the ceiling for most of your shots. For the most part, all you need to do is put your camera in TTL mode. You can always use your camera’s flash exposure compensation button to increase or decrease the amount of flash if your image is underexposed or overexposed.
+ I recommend using Manual mode on your flash if you are using an umbrella and an off-camera flash in a single location. Make sure you have enough flash power by testing your setup on a helper or a volunteer.
+ Use a single flash exposure to avoid taking multiple photos with the flash by accident.
+ Keep an eye on your flash and wait for it to cool down before reusing it. When shooting at maximum power, be sure to allow enough time for your flash to fire according to the instructions in the manual. Because they don’t pay attention, many photographers end up damaging or even burning their flashes. In fact, I strongly advise against using your flash at maximum power and instead suggest using a smaller aperture or a higher ISO setting.
+ You are using a fast shutter speed if your subjects are well lit but the background is too dark. The shutter speed in flash photography controls the ambient light, so if you want more of the background light to come through, you’ll need to lower your shutter speed. To ensure that your flash fires at the end of the exposure when shooting at slow shutter speeds, use your camera’s “rear curtain sync” feature.
7 – Learn How To Make People Comfortable
When it comes to corporate photography, one of the biggest challenges is that people attending the events often feel on edge because they are held in formal settings.
Of course, there are boozy exceptions, but many events, especially early in the event, will feel stiffer than your family events or weddings.
Even if this makes you uncomfortable as a photographer, you must push through it and not show any signs of distress.
First and foremost, present yourself well. When the opportunity arises, smile and briefly engage your subjects, especially in the early stages of the interview.
People will feel more at ease around you after a few initial pleasantries, and you won’t have to engage them again for the remainder of the event.
Of course, you’ll be skulking around, trying to catch candid shots of the action. People will be wary of you and your big camera, making it more difficult to sneak around.
People will ignore you if you look and act the part and instead concentrate on the event.
8 – Wait For The Best Moments To Capture Engaging Shots
Business events aren’t like weddings, where you can plan ahead for special moments like jokes and speeches. People’s smiles are fewer and further between, so you have to be on the lookout for them.
I’m going to look for a group of people who appear to be having a good time. After that, I’ll set up shop near them and pretend to be surveying the room or taking a short break.
I’ll keep watching until someone cracks a joke or there’s an interesting moment in the show for me.
This is how you stage happy photos at dreary occasions.
Attending a seminar is no easier than a conference.
Even though photographing an insurance seminar for five to six hours a day will make your eyes bleed, you must remain focused and alert in order to capture the lighthearted moments.
Most presenters will begin their presentations with a joke or two. As a result, you must be extra ready each time someone new stands to speak.
9 – Edit Efficiently
Due to the rise of social media, customers now expect quick turnaround times on photos.
It’s frustrating, but if you have a good editing strategy, you can get through it.
Within a day or two of the event, I try to deliver the top 15-20 photos to my clients, and the rest are delivered within a week later. However, one of my greatest strengths is that I pride myself on being able to work within any given deadline.
To edit quickly and effectively, begin by selecting the best images from your camera’s memory card. The star rating system in Lightroom is what I use.
In the beginning, I give 3-star ratings to shots that I’m not sure about, and 5-star ratings to those that I plan on sending to the customer.
With a couple of passes after that first one, I widdle down the 5-star images, changing some to 4-stars. Continuing in this manner, I am able to take as many pictures as I desire.
To avoid procrastination, focus on narrowing down the initial set of 600 to 1000 photos to the top 150-200 before moving on to the rest of the editing.
Afterwards, I turn off all sources of distraction so that I can focus on the task at hand for as long as possible, taking frequent breaks to refocus my mind and eyes.
When I’m done taking pictures, I always make a second pass the following day with a fresh set of eyes.
Your clients will become loyal if you have an effective editing strategy in place like this one. Everyone appreciates how quickly they can receive their photos.