When advertising agencies and expo producers hire me and my team to document large conferences like AWS re:Invent 2019, they depend upon me to bring forth many of the skills I have developed over 15 years as a professional photographer. When fielding a larger team of event photographers for a large conference, I only hire photographers who also have deep experience and skill in Event and Wedding photography.
I am expected to photograph the full range of views and feelings and interactions that unfold when thousands of people come together to listen and learn and to do business. My clients expect me to provide photos with wide macro information, like the outside of a building or the wide view of a huge trade show floor. Think of the opening "scene-setting" shot of many movies that fly in to a recognizable location, getting closer and closer to the subject as the movie unfolds.
Like a movie, event photographers are also expected to constantly be changing our perspective and location and focal length. The professional photographer strives to get very wide and very close and everything in-between as the convention or meeting proceeds.
Event photographers are constantly on the look out for "moments", genuine unscripted interactions between people at these events. Moment photos run the gamut, from spontaneous crowd reactions to a dynamic keynote speaker, to young people learning and suddenly understanding a new skill, to old friends hugging in the hallway. Moments like these never cease at an Event, and carefully capturing these moments is one of the most important things an Event photographer does. People enjoy looking at photos full of feeling.
Event photographers are also expected to bring back photos of products, signage, branding, motion and activity, beautiful decor and lovely decorations.
I often tell those considering hiring event photographers that they may want to look closely at those with a strong background in the sometimes disparaged field of wedding photography, as Event and Wedding photography have much in common.
Both Event and Wedding photography require a strong command of lighting and color temperature as lighting conditions and the color of light constantly changes from room to room and as they day advances. Both types of photography expect long hours and non-stop hustle, with an expectation that the photographer be in every place of interest in order to document the different Points of View and feeling and look and peak moments as they occur over a very large area. It is not unusual for both types of photographers to walk 5 or more miles per day as they hustle from event to event.
One of the pleasures of photographing keynote speakers is that they are always very well lit, usually standing in front of very interesting backdrops, as is the case with this photo of Andy Jassy. In other words, photographing keynote speakers is pretty easy, if you understand color temperature, shutter speed and aperture.
Experienced professional photographers almost always use the manual setting for their white balance color temperature, knowing that auto white balance will produce photos with different color temperatures across the set. With experience, photographers generally have a very good idea of what the Kelvin color temperature is of the lights illuminating keynote speakers. But to be sure, I always carry a color temperature measuring app on my smartphone that allows me to measure the ambient light as it falls upon a white sheet. This app gives me a Kelvin temperature value, like 4200 Kelvin, which almost always is very close to what I have guesstimated. I also carry color correcting gels that allow me to adjust the Kelvin color output from my on-camera flash to match the color temperature of the ambient light.
Successful Event photographers enjoy working in a very dynamic environment with constantly shifting lighting conditions and subjects. They enjoy a fast-paced day, covering literally miles and miles of terrain day after day. We enjoy meeting people and interacting to help them to be relaxed. We are comfortable occasionally stepping up to take charge of a group of people to make a great shot but most of the time we are a fly on the wall. We don't mind getting in front of others in order to "get the shot" because we know it is only for a minute before we move on to the next place, the next shot, the next moment.
Image by Las Vegas Event Photographers ExpoTraffic, courtesy of O Hello Media.
Location: Sands Expo Convention Center, 201 Sands Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89169.Filename: Las-Vegas-Event-Photography-by-EXPO-TRAFFIC-STEVEN-JOSEPH-FOGARTY-1000.jpg. 1/200; f/5.6; ISO 4000; 38.0 mm.