Aside from all the millions of things you have to think about to organise a good conference and once you have chosen the right photographer, here are a few little tips to make their job a bit easier and ensure you get some awesome imagery:
1. Don’t bother using an app for asking questions. Firstly, they can fail and from experience often do. Also, they can distract the session chair and it doesn’t look good in photos when the speaker is talking and the chair is just looking at their phone. An app also limits audience interaction, so the photographer would not get those cool shots of people holding mics asking questions directly.
2. Make sure projectors aren’t shining on people during panel discussions. Often the tops of people’s heads can be skimmed with the light of the projector. This is almost impossible for a photographer to remedy and looks pretty terrible. Either aim your projector higher or project from behind. If you can't do either of those then prepare a slide with the conference logo in the top half and have the lower half blank. Ask AV to display this slide during panel talks if the above issue arises.
3. Create custom branded items such as toys, goodie bags, gifts, programs. These can make for really cool, quirky shots that do well on social media.
4. Have lots of branding in the form of signs, banners, projections. The bigger the better. Hung just above head height is best. Also, it’s best to give these a matt finish to prevent unwanted reflections.
5. Make stage lights bright. It’s surprising how many venues don’t light their speakers well. The lights should illuminate the speaker/speakers/panel well, but not be so harsh that they squint. This improves photos greatly and if I can shoot without the need for flash it’s even better.
6. Make sure that there aren’t overly distracting items on the podium when people are speaking, eg mics in the way, laptops, water bottles, etc.
7. Seat as much of the audience near the front of the auditorium. If they are too spread out then the venue may look less full in the photos. You may need to rope off areas at the back to encourage delegates towards the front.
8. Give your photographer a good shotlist and itinerary. Best as a printout, as checking apps can be annoying when you are already juggling a couple of cameras.
9. Elevate static videographers on a platform. This will ensure the photographer does not obstruct their line of sight.
10. Feed the crew well! This is something that usually happens anyway at conferences, thankfully. But it can be very tiring shooting a conference and so it’s important to keep the crew energised.
In summary, we live in a visual age, when billions of photos are uploaded to the web every day. Images are vital selling tools and ensuring you have bold, slick photos will help your conference stand out and look its best. I hope these insights of a conference photographer were helpful to you and they help you create even better photos at your events.