30 killer tips to create impactful event photographs using your smartphone
You have been asked to take business event photos because you share photos on your Instagram/Facebook account. Therefore, you must know what you are doing!
Argh, the pressure - it’s all up to you to record the event and make it look really engaging and enticing. Little do they know, you just lift the phone, tap the button and the amazing technology does the rest.
This article will provide tips on what to photograph and how to capture the moments. I have broken the tips into three categories:
- Before the event
- During the event
- After the event
Before the Business Event
Smartphone specific tips
1. Use the rear camera
Yes, for those who take daily selfies – there is a much better quality camera on the back of the phone!
2. Turn off the flash by tapping the flash icon then Off
The flash is limited to a short distance and can be quite distracting to someone participating in the event
3. Turn on the grid lines
The two vertical and horizontal lines help you capture a straight image and place a person off-centre to also capture the context of the scene
4. iPhone specific tip: Turn on Live Photos
You can now edit a Live Photo and select the still frame within the quick little video to capture the exact moment and avoid those eye closed images. Alternatively, hold the shutter button to capture a burst of images
5. HDR on auto
An acronym for High Dynamic Range, not high definition resolution! In real time your phone captures and blends multiple images to capture a higher range of light and dark in the scene
6. Tap the subject on the screen to focus
This tells the automatic smartphone camera where you want it to focus and make the subject detailed. It also prioritises how the camera will balance light and dark to create a nicely lit photo
The Pano mode on your phone is amazing. Remember movement in the photo can produce ghosting of people
8. Stabilise the phone
Hold the phone in two hands, elbows tucked in and ideally resting against something solid. This helps to prevent those blurry images that are often problematic in low-light venues
9. Wide-angle lens attachment
A quality wide angle lens attachment like the Struman Optics cinematic lens captures a wider field of view and gets everyone in the group photo
10. Zoom lens attachment
The Struman Optics 2X portrait lens allows you to get in closer for those candid captures. If you have a dual lens phone, simply tap on the 1X icon
Event photography planning tips
Planning for your event photos will reduce your stress and allow you to get the most out of the planned and impromptu photo opportunities
11. Visit the venue
If practical, visit the venue before the event at the same time of day. The provides an insight into the lighting to expect and the environment
12. Look for a large naturally lit window
If you are taking posed photos/video; such as testimonials – face the posed group toward the large naturally lit window. It is much more flattering than overhead lighting – we have all seen those bathroom selfies!
13. Get a hold of the business event schedule
Identify where and when the activities are going to occur. You don’t want to miss the essential shots. This is why you are getting paid a huge fee (or not!)
14. Identify the best angles
Anticipate where you can capture a clear photo of the speakers without a blocked view – are there locations where you can achieve some height?
15. Create a shot list
Consider your audience and/or branding to determine what you should be capturing and communicating in your images
During the Event
Now that you have planned – you should be feeling super excited and ready!
Don’t stress yourself out over all these responsibilities that have been thrust upon you. You’ve got this – have fun
16. Your demeanour
Be relaxed and move around slowly. Don’t rush and be stressed because it will reflect in your photos
17. Capture logos in the posed photos
Event organisers and sponsors can be a little precious about getting exposure for all the time and money invested!
18. Minimise the distractions in the photo
Clear table tops of tall wine bottles and move around to include a less busy, cluttered background. The people are the story in the image
19. Avoid eating photos
No one wants to see that!
20. Add energy to the photos
If there isn’t any energy at the event (we have all been to those) add some to your photos by intentionally tilting your phone to capture and angled photo
21. Capture photos where people are mingling
Avoid the photos of one or two people standing on their own. Whenever you capture a group – take at least three photos to avoid someone having their eyes closed!
22. Capture a variety of photos
Take lots of photos, including the presenters, attendees, candid personal exchanges, distant, side and wide. Even capture closes up of catering and any promotional material
23. Take multiple photos of speakers
Select a photo without the mid-word gaping wide mouth and skewed eyes!
24. Look like you belong
Blend in with the audience in your attire and behaviour. This reflects professionalism, respect to the event organiser and enables you to connect with attendees
25. Communicate the Company brand
An outdoor activity Company would avoid indoor posed photos. They would prefer dynamic images of healthy living - full of energy and vibrant colour
26. Capture candid photos
Did you know you can take a photo using the volume minus button on the side of the phone? You do not need to hold the phone up in front of your face
27. Creative blur in your photos
Capture photos with a foreground and background at a distance to create some interesting depth and blur the background. Some smartphones have a portrait mode that blurs the background. You can also achieve a blurred background using After Focus app
28. Capture tables from a lower angle
Shooting a lower angle across the table fills the frame with people instead of the messy distracting table contents
29. Don’t forget the video
Hold the phone horizontal! When moving left and right, lock in your arms and move with your hips
After the Event
Double check with event organisers that attendees were informed and provided consent to having their photo taken at registration. The organisers may have a list of people who did not want their photo taken. This is a very real concern for some people who want to control where their photo is shared.
We live in a mobile world, where everyone wants to see the photos within a 24 hour period. Any longer and the photos quickly become less relevant. Capturing the photo on the phone, allows you to edit and share directly to social media and email – without having to connect to a computer.
All photos require some editing to become a storytelling visual image. I know some will argue that they prefer photos that are not edited. That is a debate, I will win another day!
30. Photo editing apps
We live in an exciting time where we are absolutely spoilt for photo editing app options. Snapseed photo editing app by Google (iOS and Android) is my go-to app for quick easy edits to more advanced editing. Touch Retouch, After Focus and Picsart are also saved on my home screen for quick photo edits.
To summarise the main learnings covered:
- Be excited about capturing the business event
- Become familiar with your phone camera
- Plan where to position, and how to capture the event
- Be creative and capture a variety of photos
- Photo editing can really make your photos pop off the screen
- Communicate the desired story, consistent to the Company brand
These articles are a great resource to learn a mobile photography specific technique or tip. Your fastest transition to becoming the confident and creative smartphone photographer you want and deserve to be is a strategically designed course.
An impactful and engaging WOW image consists of a strong subject, composition and lighting. The real power and fun transforming the image is then photo editing. Recreate that story, feeling and intention lost in the photo capture by strategically applying visual literacy and mobile apps to enhance your results and passion for photography.
Also published on Medium.