3 Questions Every Event Photographer Should Ask

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the end of last week helping out at the Center for Media & Social Impact‘s 10th Annual Media That Matters conference. Officially, I was working as the rapporteur. Unofficially, I had my camera at the ready.

My first stint as an event photographer came unexpectedly, but this time I was prepared. Although I hadn’t written anything down, I was working from a mental shot list with three main subject categories: stage, action, and interaction. Each of these asks a question about the event that I wanted my photographs to answer. So here we go.

• • •

STAGE: What did it feel like to be there?
Give your audience a sense of the surroundings.

1. The sign in the lobby. I liked this shot because it included both the dynamic conference logo in the foreground and the more stately university logo in the background.

Media That Matters

2. Partners’ promotional material. This shot gives a sense of both the physical environment of the conference and the wide variety of groups and projects represented at the conference.

Media That Matters partner material

3. The refreshments table. Maybe not the most exciting shot, but I like the image of the drink jars and stacks of cups lined up in rows, ready for thirsty conference-goers. It creates a sense of anticipation.



ACTION: What happened?
Why was this event important? What did people get out of it?

4. The keynote. The speaker shots were trickier because of the intense contrast created by the black background and the harsh stage lights.

Alden Stoner and Caty Borum Chattoo

5. The talks. The projected image above the speakers’ heads added yet another contrasting element, but it created an interesting effect when the camera settings were right.

Erika Lantz, Rebecca Sheir, and Rob Rosenthal

6. The displays. Besides just the speakers themselves, I wanted to capture some of the media elements the speakers were discussing. This shot worked well because the blues and greens were muted enough to bring the contrast down.

David Holbrooke and Pat Aufderheide


INTERACTION: What did people do?
This is the social question, the human element. Events are fundamentally gatherings of people.

7. Lunch tables. Here I wanted to convey the magnitude of the crowd. The light in this setting added a feeling of openness that helped counter the busyness of the tables.

Media That Matters lunch

8. Conversation. I like this shot because the focus is on not only a particular table but also a particular woman, the blond woman at top left. The photo captures her expression as she listens to someone at her table.

Media That Matters lunch

9. Mingling. At group events, it’s always nice to get photos of people mingling. I had trouble with the camera settings in such a dimly-lit yet fast-moving environment, as evidenced by the blurriness of this photo, but the shot captures the woman’s smile and her engagement in the conversation.



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