Working as a event photographer in South Florida I get to shoot a wide range of people and events. This photo of Brady Quinn was taken at a special guest event in a Boca Raton home. When a guest speaker is hired or asked to appear at a function it's critical for the photographer to get an image that shows to person looking good and not in mid sentence, which would result in a photo of the person's tongue hanging out, eyes closed or making a funny face. Timing is everything when shooting guests or keynote speakers at a South Florida event. My method is to wait for a pause in a sentence or I'll wait until one of the guests asks a question. Then I shoot at the point when her is not talking.
Below are some tips and useful information on photographing guest or keynote speakers at an event.
Almost every charity, corporate, or special event I photograph has some type of person speaking. Often there is a keynote speaker as well as talks given by other company executives as well. Some events have famous speakers such as scientists, or corporate executives. Recently I got to photograph American Astronaut Scott Kelly at a lecture on how plastic is used in space. What does plastic have to do with space missions? Actually everything, for many reasons. I guess this is not the forum to talk about my new found knowledge of plastic in space. However, the techniques used in this article on event photography in South Florida are the same methods I used to get these photos of Scott Kelly.
Photographing keynote or guest speakers is one of the more difficult parts of covering a corporate, charity or special event. I hope that you will find the tips below useful and will give you ideas about how to cover a speaker without becoming too distracting or getting pictures with funny faces.
1) Since most corporate events take place in hotel ballrooms or darkly lit settings I recommend shooting with a wide open aperture setting. Some less expensive lenses don't have wide F-stops and they are not designed to provide the best quality at a wide F-stop. When a lens company makes a lens with a wide F-stop they know it's purchased because of the wide F-Stop. With this in mind, that wide F-stop better look sharp. Owning a more expensive f/2.8 zoom or a even faster lens will come in very handy. If you have been hired to photograph a corporate event in South Florida or an other place and you don't own a fast lens, I would consider renting one. Could you get by with a slower, cheaper lens, maybe. Using a slower lens means you will need to use more flash power or a higher ISO setting. Using more flash will mean that your background will be darker and using a higher iso will result in images with more noise.
2) Almost all auto focus cameras will beep when the lens hits to correct focus point. This is annoying to everyone including the speaker. This setting should be turned off. No keynote or guest speakers wants to hear, Beep, FLASH, Beep, FLASH, Beep FLASH with they are concentrating on what they are trying to say.
3) I always use some flash when photographing a corporate, charity, or special event speakers. I know some photographers don't. Yes, it's true that a flash is distracting for the speaker and the guests but at the end of the day. I want the best looking images. So I compromise. I usually bounce my flash off of the ceiling or a corner wall, this way to speakers is not looking at direct flash. If I can't bounce flash, I use a flash diffuser to soften this light. Since this photo of Brady Quinn was taken in a home, I didn't have to bounce my flash off of a huge ballroom ceiling.
4) It's important to know you camera's results at different iso settings. The cameras I use are full frame cameras so the image quality is awesome even at a higher ISO. Even though I use flash I still allow for some available light to expose my images. I always what the ambience of the room lighting to become apparent in my pictures. Often I will shoot at ISO settings of 800 or 1,600 and sometimes even higher. If your images look noisy at those higher ISO settings you will need to use more flash and lower the ISO setting. I wouldn't automatically set the ISO to 1600 or higher and start shooting. This is where you need to know you camera and determine in advance what is an acceptable ISO range.
5) Using a monopod to keep your camera steady could be helpful. When shooting at a slower shutter speed your images are more likely to suffer from camera shake. Remember, a mono or tripod with keep the camera shake away, however if the speaker is moving then they will be blurry even if you are on a tripod or monopod. If you are trying to shoot with a slower shutter speed, don't trust that your images will be sharp. Shoot some at a slower shutter speed, but also shoot some a a faster shutter speed as well. When I'm hired as a event photographer in South Florida, my clients expect clear, sharp images. A professional photoshoot is no time to experiment. Getting the images right is most important.
6) While photographing a speaker at a South Florida event you want to get a variety of different images. This means that you should move around to get different angles and backgrounds. Of course you want to be careful not to be distracting, this means move quietly and decide where you are going before moving. In addition I shoot a wide shot which shows all the attendees watching as well. Trust me when I say that clients want to see the crowd of attendees watching. If you don't get this shot, the client is going to ask for it.
7) Take many, many, many photos of the speakers. The reason I say this is because you want to get the person speaking looking good. In a speaking environment, you are playing part of a numbers game. It you shoot 10 shots maybe one will be good, so shoot 30-40 frames, just be discrete and don't blind the speaker or the guests with your flash. Sometimes the speaker will move around while taking. During this time the lighting will change which will effect your exposure. By taking lots of photos, you will be glad that you covered the speaker in the best possible way. The bottom line when photographing speakers is to shoot, shoot, shoot. Like I said, its part a numbers game.
To learn more about how I photograph my South Florida corporate, charity and special event check out these articles. South Florida corporate events. Questions to ask your South Florida photographer. This one is from a huge event which took place at The Breakers. A Palm Beach event at The Breakers. If you are planning a corporate event in Miami, check out this article. Miami special event photography
Location: Boca Raton, Florida..