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Conference photographers – Think like a marketer not like a photographer

chairs
Our clients hold their conferences in various cities across the country and beyond, and we hire conference photographers who are local to each event. While we try to balance budget vs. experience, and certainly check portfolios and references, we are never quite certain what we are getting until we receive access to the images after the event has ended.

The photo above is an actual image we received from the photographer hired for a conference. Truly, it is a lovely image that reflects both technical skill and compelling composition.

But, it is not what we are looking for in conference photography.

We are looking for images that can be used on our website and in communications to promote our association and future conferences. We want to see:

People
And, lots of them. We want to reflect the fact that the conference has a lot to offer, and is therefore well-attended. Showcase the filled seating in the presentation audience, heavy traffic in the aisles of the scientific poster sessions and well-attended social networking events. This might mean planning staff and board group shots for the beginning or end of a networking event, so the photographer is free to capture the networking action when attendance peaks.

And, please show our conference attendees having fun and interacting, or alternatively, engaged in learning.

Branding
The photos received from one recent conference included lots of close-ups of presenters’ faces. Really close-up. The images represent very sharp, expertly-executed photography. However, we would have preferred the inclusion of some context, such as the branded podium and the branded presentation slide projected on the screen behind the speaker.

Our conferences are all well-branded, and there is signage everywhere. For candid shots of attendees interacting in the hallways between sessions, take advantage of this and position yourself to include conference branding in your shots.

Lighting
This is one of the biggest technical challenges. Conference lighting can be tricky, with dark presentation rooms and the off-color cast of artificial light. Using a basic flash can produce harsh and unnatural results. While most professional photographers are adept at handling lighting, this is something we have learned to take a close look at when reviewing potential photographers’ portfolios.

PS. Do not worry – The photographer who took the photo featured in this post also provided ample images that more than met our needs!

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