Events through a lens, winter 2018 issue 3
They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and we strongly believe that to be true. We have been very fortune to work with clients who put on very special events in stunning places and sometimes nothing but photographs can ever capture the incredible experience. This is when a great event photographer is worth their weight in gold.
We work with a small number of photographers who never fail to make our events come back to life through their images. Here we talk to one of the best, Graham to find out a little more about how he captures the essence of our events.
How is photographing events different from other occasions?
When shooting events, you have to be ready for anything. Good events have a seamless pace to them and the best action can happen very quickly, often in several places at the same time. Of course, experience can help you predict what might come up, but you never really know. You get used to having no control in terms of lighting or environment or what people are going to do.
What challenges do you come across?
Key challenges are always poor lighting, trying to be in several places at once, carrying equipment and the increasingly common expectation that the client can get the shots immediately, straight off the camera. Having said that, it’s the ability to deal with these and all the other challenges that give you your value. So, I embrace the challenge!
We sometimes refer to you as the photographic ninja … how do you remain unobtrusive while being in the heart of an event?
Black clothes, quiet shoes, minimal equipment, and phone on silent, generally keep me unobtrusive. I tend to shoot quickly and candidly and keep moving which means that most groups ignore me before long, which is how it should be. When you are moving between people in a busy networking crowd you can hide behind the camera to some extent, but you still have to get close and make sure you get what you need.
Again, it’s about judging the situation and understanding what a client wants from an event. While the photography might be very important after the event, working to capture during the event ideally shouldn’t disturb the business going on at the time. And then there are times when you need to be a part of the action, get involved and make things happen. Different cultures around the world can have very different attitudes too. You need to be sensitive to the situation but still make sure you get the shots.
What is the hardest type of event to photograph in your opinion and how do you tackle it?
Quite a number of events I shoot can include a conference, team experience, workshops etc all in one day and sometimes they are happening simultaneously. Which creates the challenge of distances, timing and the sheer number of images produced. I’m often asked to edit, process and deliver the shots onsite during the event which after twelve hours shooting each day means a lot of late nights. Any type of event can be challenging but generally it’s not normally the event itself, but the brief that causes the problems. Or just bad weather.
How can a client assist you before and during an event?
The best clients trust me to do what I do. Either from experience or recommendation. It’s good to know a little background to the event, the important times and locations, and any details that need capturing in a particular way or for a specific purpose. It’s also helpful to have key people pointed out. Or a sense of who to focus on. It’s also important to feel like I can ask what might seem like a stupid question about stuff that might not be obvious to clients who are so close to their business.
Other than that, I much prefer to have free range rather than a list of things to tick off.
Your favourite event to photograph with us so far?
I don’t have a favourite. I love working with you on all your events! I’ve worked with Crescendo and Fruitful for many years now and the trust we have makes working together a real pleasure. I travel a lot but still really enjoy that side of my work, so I guess our recent work in Russia would be up there as a highlight.