Corporate event photography isn’t the most glamours job a photographer can have, but it is a staple of many photographers in-between other shoots. Corporate events share some aspects with events like weddings, but are very different in other ways. Let’s explore some of the things we do to succeed at corporate event photography.
This is part 1 of a 2 part blog post. In part two we will cover the six type of photos that every company is looking for and how we achieve them.
TL;DR – Preparing for Corporate Event Photography
Tips for photographing large corporate events:
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Make sure you can comfortable carry your gear all day.
- Have backup chargers, batteries and more.
- Shoot for easy (and frequent) hand off to your customer.
- Make sure you have free space on your laptop before the event.
- Make sure the event schedule includes time to take care of non-shooting tasks like downloading and backup.
- Be early and stay late.
Corporate event photography keeps us going during the off-season for wedding photography. One of our clients has 2 big muli-day events a year: one with 6,000 attendees and one with 17,000! What follows are some of my tips that can help you navigate the first time you photograph an event like this or just be a refresher to getting through these marathons.
I have to start with keeping you feet happy. Without happy feet you are going to be miserable toward the end of the 10 12 14 hour work day and your resultant photos will be negative for your depleted happiness state. To solve this I pack a few pair of shoes to rotate through to give each pair 24 hours to rebound their cushioning and support. The second part to this equation is having great socks on hand.
I swear by Balega Enduros. I have run literal marathons in them and find they are just as good for a 12 hour day of photography. When wearing or needing to wear dress shoes with nice looking socks I buy the shoes a half size larger than what I should wear and put the Enduro’s on first with my dress socks going on second. Happy feet guaranteed!
Whatever your shoe of choice, comfort is more important than style if you are working a 8+ hour day on your feet.
Second, let’s back up and think about packing, traveling for the event. We know the days will be long. Make sure your gear doesn’t cause any more fatigue or discomfort than necessary.
Think Tank Photo has a bunch of gear that makes my life easier at corporate events. The first is my main camera bag, the Think Tank Airport Takeoff. It fits in overhead bins in all flights and converts from rolling bag to backpack. The beauty of this is that it keeps weight off my shoulders while a roller and gives me the option to carry my gear as backpack in less smooth conditions. Having the knowledge that it will always fit in the overhead bins makes sure my gear is always with me and won’t have problems when I show up at the job site.
The second part of my think tank equation is the Think Tank Lens Changers. I have several sizes and usually carry 2 on my belt, one for an extra lens and one for my flash. Again this will help to keep weight off of my shoulders and place it on my hips and legs. I used to carry two cameras but found the weight and the inconsistency of settings in the split second of the moment to way against that option. Keeping synced setting and managing double the memory cards and batteries was another check mark against.
Whatever bags you choose, make sure they are comfortable to use all day and when walking long distances.
Now that we have happy feet and the right gear on our bodies, let’s talk about the getting the shot and what to do with them.
Social media is a thing, in fact, it may be the main reason you are there. That means delivering photos quickly, during the event. I set my camera to shoot RAW + JPG. My camera has 2 card slots and I set the camera to write RAW to one card and JPG to the other. This give me the speed to hand off JPGs throughout the day by simply switching out the JPG card. I still retain the flexibility to process later in the day or post event to deliver edited images after the event.
Knowing I am shooting and delivering JPGs on site I need to be aware of white balance, and exposure a little more carefully. I want to be spot on, but also want to be very consistent. This allows speed in post processing and consistent results for your client throughout the day. Custom settings (C1, C2, etc. on Canon) can go a long way to help once you have values dialed in. Especially while working the same mix of rooms.
You will forget something. Multi-day events with double digit hours will crack your brain open. There will be things lost, missing or broken. Plan for failure and redundancy to make each event a success. Knowing what is likely to fail takes a little experience. The least likely things can be the most problematic. Consider what would happen if the shutter on your camera failed? Don’t think it can? It’s not a matter of if, but when you have an unexpected failure. You should have a backup for anything vital to complete the job.
I normally carry:
- An extra camera body – This doesn’t have to be as good as your primary body, but it needs to be good enough to deliver what you promised.
- Extra lenses – You don’t need to duplicate lenses, but make sure your main lens has a backup. Whatever your main lens, if it breaks (say, due to a dropped camera), make sure you have something else in that range you can switch to.
- Extra cards – Have enough that you won’t need to format anything during the event, and so you can replace a card that shows any sign of failure.
- Extra batteries – Carry enough batteries that you shouldn’t need to charge even if a battery fails, and bring your chargers just in case.
- Gaffer Tape – Many problems can be solved with a little gaffer’s tape.
Securing Gear and Images
Beyond spares, make sure you have a plan to secure your equipment. It should be somewhere you can access on your own, but secure from the public spaces of the event. Arriving early will give you time to find this location with the event staffs’ help.
Secure your images as well. Plan to download and backup your images on a regular basis. I normally try to download and backup once every two to three hours. One copy ends up on my laptop. A second remains on the cards, because we don’t format cards during events. If the venue has fast internet, I might backup to the cloud but often we push a 3rd copy onto an external hard drive that is stashed out of sight of the computer and other camera gear.
Downloading and backing up take time. Any long event day should have breaks built in for you. Everyone needs 10 or 15 minutes to use the restroom, get a drink or just pause. Beyond breaks for the basic necessities, make sure the event staff adds time for your to download and backup images every few hours. It’s in their best interests as well as yours. If the schedule is to tight for that, consider bringing an assistant to handle downloading and backing up, or asking the event staff or customer to assign you someone.
To Josh, life is one big adventure. He founded AzulOx Visuals in 2009, AzulOx Commercial Photography in 2014 and has been exploring the world and new photographic techniques ever since. Josh loves to use his photographs to tell stories, and he excels in designing creative story-boarded shoots. Josh is passionate about photography and the creative development of his students. He uses a variety of teaching techniques to help his students realize their photographic vision.
Josh is a husband and father to 2 young boys- who are junior models and photographers in training.