The key to great Event Photography: Tell a story

The key to great Event Photography: Tell a story

Late in 2018 the Birmingham office of national law firm Shoosmiths was celebrating 15 years in the city. As part of this they were hosting an event with both staff and clients and, of course, a pretty big cake!

I was invited to photograph the evening, and as it's such a good news story for both the firm and the city, it was important to get great images that the firm could then use on their website, in social media and in the local press.

So how did I approach covering the event? First of all it's important to have a plan and to familiarise myself with the schedule of the evening; for instance: when food will be served; any entertainment and in this case, when the head of the office Jason Jackson would be speaking.

Photography is all in the details

Once I know the lay of the land, I start to capture the details such as the location, atmosphere and any nibbles waiting for hungry guests. Much like a wedding, a lot of planning and thought will have gone into this event, and it's important to take a variety of photos throughout the duration of the evening to reflect this.

Details are key to showing atmosphere, like artwork

Details are key to showing atmosphere, like artwork

Or branded goodies

Or branded goodies

…And of course, the food!

…And of course, the food!

Don’t scare anyone with the camera!

As people start to arrive, I don't instantly start taking photos of them. Why? Well, I don't want people to feel uncomfortable! Cameras can scare people, so I make them aware that I'm there by walking around taking shots of other things, and wait for guests to settle before I start taking pictures of people.

When I do start, hopefully everyone has settled into the evening and is enjoying themselves. So I begin with candid photos to capture the mood of the event - hopefully lots of big smiles and good conversations.

It’s important to capture the mood of the guests

It’s important to capture the mood of the guests

Genuine smiles always make great photos

Genuine smiles always make great photos

Capture the main event

Next, in this particular case, I took some photos of Jason as the speaker for the event. Telling the story of the office and how it's grown over the years. I try to be as subtle as possible here and limit the use of flash if I can. I don't want to distract Jason or the audience.

The speaker for the evening, Jason Jackson

The speaker for the evening, Jason Jackson

The all important group photos

Finally, I'll take images of the various groups of people, looking straight at the camera to illustrate the range of guests who attended - these shots are particularly useful for marketing purposes and press releases.

It’s always important to get group shots

It’s always important to get group shots

Particularly for any press releases

Particularly for any press releases

Delivering the photos

Once the event has finished and everyone has gone home, I'll post-produce the images as quickly as possible and have them with the client the next day. This is crucial as they will need to be used for PR and social media. I'll send a good selection of the best images: details; candids; food & drink; speakers and groups.

Ultimately, that's how the story is told. Through the images the client will be able to retell the story of the evening.

Perfect.

Finally, that cake!

Finally, that cake!

The finished article

The final photos are then used in a wide range of ways, from marketing collateral and social media to this article in the Birmingham Post.