16 Oct 2012

Don’t get caught up in the show – photographing events.

Speedlighting Blog No Comments

Photographing Events – I shot the film Premiere of The Life of Riley, a film by Jon Brewer about the life of BB King last week. The job was a red carpet shoot, party and gig by US blues veteran Walter Trout and The Strypes from Ireland. Childhood rock heroes, glamorous guests, live music and abundant alcohol – all potentials for a disastrous job.

Duff Press at BB King Premiere - photographing events

The Duff Press Team

Through photographing events like this I have come to realise that it’s actually not hard to stand out as a photographer in the corporate/entertainment world. As I observe things too many photographer get caught up in the product and think THEY are part of the party or product. Its important to stay focused on the service we are there to provide regardless of what the product is.

As I see it the key points for photographing events, however glamorous or exciting or even dull are as follows:-

  1. Arrive on time with all the right gear.
  2. Introduce yourself to the client and make sure you understand the brief – rehearse it with them.
  3. Understand the key timings for the event, who the key personalities are and make sure you have mobile numbers for the client, his PA or any other key team members. Make sure they all have yours – there is nothing worse than having to wander around a huge venue trying to locate your key players.
  4. Try and identify the key players around your client and introduce yourself to them.
  5. Make brief notes in front of the client – its reassuring. I make a brief note of timings on my iPhone in Notes. That way they see you are taking this seriously and you wont have to embarrass yourself by asking again. No one ever complained to me that I was taking a keen interest in their event.
  6. If there are other photographers there make sure you chat to one and get their details just in case you miss something
  7. Remember you are there as a service provider not to entertain yourself. Stay focussed on the job in hand.
  8. You are there representing your brand – value your brand – you are the best, and usually the only, ambassador for your brand. You are almost certainly surrounded by potential clients – its an opportunity to perform.
  9. You are there to serve your clients brand – seek to be of service, add value and enhance their brand not only through your images but also through your interactions. What can I give of myself to the event to make a difference to my clients experience?
  10. Do not drink alcohol. That’s for the guests only. No. Not ever. Not one. I don’t drink so easier for me to say – it’s a credibility breaker in my view to see someone drinking at work.
  11. We all assume you can take great photos that’s why you got the gig – do not discuss technique with the client – no one is interested and you come across as boring and amateurish.
  12. Be a team player and communicate.
  13. At the end of the event tell the key players you are leaving, hand out some cards, confirm the timing for delivery of the work, thank them for the work and tell them what a great event you thought it was.
  14. Do not expect feedback, praise or comment – you will be disappointed. My experience of corporate event clients, be it BB King or Barclays, no comment is good comment. In general people are very bad at saying thank you and the world of photography is no different.
  15. Deliver the edited images when you said you would.

 

Jeff Beck & Jon Brewer at BB King premiere - photographing events

Jeff Beck & Jon Brewer at the BB King premiere

 

Sam Avila and the Walter Trout band - photographing events

Sam Avila and the Walter Trout Band

The Strypes at BB King premiere - photographing events

The Strypes at the BB King Premiere

Steve Hackett at BB King Premiere

Steve Hackett at the BB King Premiere

Taking a parallel from the rock music PR world I see so many PR people behaving like groupies that it makes you wonder how they have lasted so long. They get caught up in the party atmosphere and forget to take care of business. Lets not make the same mistake if we want to have long careers photographing events.

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