Conferences are a great place to sharpen your documentation skills in a controlled environment. You might even learn a thing or two from all the presentations!
For me, business work conferences are all about building strong relationships with customers. Open communication is the key. Your needs and their needs can vary, and not every decision is made with you in mind, so be flexible. Low lighting or a busy schedule might not be your preference, but if you can work well with your client you will be able to take great pictures.
1. The preparation
Before you start, make sure you get in touch with the hosts of the conference or with the person who asked you to take the photos and talk about the process. Ask this contact person to provide you with the agenda for the day so that you know when and where you need to get involved. This will give you enough lead time for the preparations and to find the best angles for yourself. Several events may take place at the same time, so it's worth being organized. This also gives you the opportunity to inquire again about the exact requirements. For example, ask in advance about the number of images you want and how they should be delivered. At a business conference everyone involved and especially the organizers are usually very busy, for this reason it is worthwhile to inform as much as possible about all the details in advance.
2. Work discreetly
Your photos aren't the most important thing that happens in this room. Participants likely invested time and money listening to the speaker's presentation, so be careful not to attract attention, stand in the way, or block the viewer's view. Trying to go unnoticed also involves making smart photographic decisions. Clicking the shutter button on the camera can actually be distracting, especially at key moments in the presentation. A compact mirrorless camera or a rangefinder camera with a silent shutter is ideal in this case. Using flash can also be very irritating. If you cannot do without the flash, clarify this with your contact person beforehand and try to find a compromise, e.g. For example, using the flash for the first few minutes of each presentation and then moving out of the way. Ideally, you should also inform the moderator immediately so that he can adjust to it and not be surprised by the flash.
3. Act with confidence and determination
You can rest assured that at a conference as a photographer, you will have to move around a lot to get good pictures and to capture the key moments. When I started, I was often unsure of my positioning and mostly moved in the back of the room. I feared I might disrupt the process, but I was unable to get a perfect series of recordings that would then tell a true story of the event. With a camera in hand, however, you have the perfect excuse to move around the premises with discretion and discretion.
The speaker and stage are not moving, so it's up to you to find different angles and perspectives to shoot from. Before you start, find a few easily accessible places where you won't get in the way but where you can get a good view of the presentation. Then you know in advance when and where you are going to start and from there you can build trust and work confidently.
4. Take a fast telephoto lens
Regardless of your freedom of movement, you will want to make sure that you are able to catch the speaker's expressions and gestures. Standing behind the room or looking up at the presenter directly under the stage can make your job very difficult when it comes to creating high quality images when you don't have the proper equipment with you. Because most of the room will certainly be less well lit for event photography. So if you have a lens such as If you hold a 70-200mm f / 2.8 in your hand, for example, you have the best chance of taking pictures that meet your quality requirements.
5. Be patient and act decisively
When I first photographed a business conference, I thought I had to be everywhere at the same time and just record everything that was happening. In reality, the quality of targeted images counts far more than the quantity of ill-considered, haphazard or random shots. For example, when photographing presenters, find a good vantage point, frame the picture, hold the camera steady, and wait for the moment of expression, the gesture or the look that reflects their personality to take your picture. Waiting for the right moment really pays off, so take your time, just don't miss it when the time comes!
6. Watch out for important guests and networks
Don't miss an opportunity to take pictures of important guests with their company logos or even company representatives. Conferences are all about connecting businesses, so keep track of those and watch out for the major events that are happening in this room. Since you do not know or identify all guests, it is all the more important to follow the conversations in the event that it is an important network.
7. Tell the story
Allow your pictures to follow the course of the day. The agenda of the event will be designed so that the schedule gives rise to an ebb and flow of activity, but make sure you keep working in the downtime. Be sure to include a broad demographic of attendees. Keep an eye on the topics and details, colors, logos, features that set this conference apart and make it unique, especially if you want to make sure that non-attendees can understand what the conference was about Being able to follow the process visually and, above all, arouse interest in attending the upcoming conferences.
8. Express the mood of the event
Many companies are now demanding that their company photos be less stuffy and businesslike. Most conferences aren't particularly exciting events, so any personality and warmth that you can infuse into your images will really help add more depth to your work. Pay attention to interactions, exchanges of ideas in conversation, handshakes, gestures, and smiles. Laughter during presentations is always welcome. If a speaker is cracking a lot of jokes, try anticipating an opportunity to focus on the audience and capture their reactions.
9. Create high quality images
At the end of the day, the customer wants a series of pictures that not only document who was there and what happened, but that also look good, are of high quality and reflect the soul of the event. When it comes to getting the work out, the client expects at least one or two outstanding images that will sum up the event. Maybe the place has special features that you can highlight, or maybe the colored stage lighting is a great focal point. Whatever it is, make it look as professional and impressive as possible.
10. Clean & efficient delivery
When you get home from the conference, it's time to start editing your photos as soon as possible. It is likely that the images will be used for online marketing as soon as they are delivered. To keep your customer happy, ask them how quickly they need the images so that you can agree on a realistic compromise. Remember that these are not art recordings, so they do not require extensive correction or retouching. Clean, sharp and well-lit shots will set it apart and allow you to satisfy the customer with high quality standards.