The art of event portraiture

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Event photographers are a different breed of photographer than most. Where the product photographer revels in the stillness and controlled quiet of the studio, the event photographer thrives on the noise, the throngs of people, the loud music and dazzling lights. Where the conference photographer studiously captures speakers at their podiums and attendees participating animatedly in workshop and breakout rooms, the event photographer roves, looking for that single instant when a look is shared, a comment made that elicits laughter, a dancer is lost in a moment.

From a client perspective the ideal event photographer captures the full sweep of the event – beauty shots of the spaces, sponsorship elements, ambience, crowd, and importantly intimate candid portraits of individuals.

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It is this detail – the event portrait – that truly captures client attention and makes one set of event photos stand out from another.  And more and more often, clients are making explicit requests for these kinds of shots because they have an authenticity about them that makes the event look worth attending.

While the event standards are still requirements (speakers or hosts on stage, awards handed out, posed shots holding big cheques, etc.), what clients really love seeing is non-posed images of their guests interacting with each other, having a laugh and sharing an experience.

Without event portraiture, event coverage is merely a documentation of what happened and could easily be done using a phone and an admin level junior staffer tasked with capturing a few highlights.  Such an approach would provide a set of images that document the timeline of an event – but it would lack any sense of the people in attendance and the stories they bring with them.

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Faces, expressions, the way the light falls in a certain way upon a group of people, the cut of a dress, the head tossed back in laughter – these are the details and moments that define the event as it is experienced by those who attend.

Although the stage action matters, and the sponsorship signs are important to email back to the sponsors, most event goers pay scant attention to these elements. Rather they are looking at each other – at what people are wearing, who is with who, who is in the room they want to meet (or avoid) and how well the layout and design of the space (and schedule) allows for mingling and networking.

Event portraits drive engagement and really make the images captured useful to clients.  Many times I’ve seen candid images of people I’ve noticed at events used as headshots or profile pictures – rather than a traditional headshot. The reason I think is obvious: people like the way they look when they are not paying attention to a camera and having fun with other people. Their natural expressions come out and their eyes, and smiles show real emotion and genuine interest that is hard to turn on on-demand when it’s picture day in the office.

When the event is all packed up and the glitter dust swept from the floor, what people are most likely to remember – and react to by sharing or buying a ticket for next year’s event – are photos of themselves, looking good and having a good time. How many table shots do you see people sharing on Facebook? Not too many I’d bet. But a well-shot images of someone captured in a moment when they were genuinely engaged in conversation with someone they found interesting is often a picture people like seeing of themselves.

And isn’t that the goal of having event photos in the first place? To engage your audience, and through them, reach into ever wider and expanding networks of like-minded people to grow the impact of your events? Event portraits are one way to help you achieve that.

Why you want a social photographer to cover your event

Most conference, summit and corporate event planners these days try to cast a virtual net by linking their event to a centralizing set of social media hashtags – mainly for easy findability and shareability on Instagram and Twitter. Making sure your event photographer is aware of these unifying communication tools and using them appropriately can help you get maximum value from your conference or event photographer.

Photographers are all seeking to cultivate their own realm of influence in social media. One mutually beneficial way to reach into different networks is to provide bits of snackable content generated by events as they happen.

Personally I’ve grown to enjoy using Twitter and Instagram to jot down insightful things I pick up while observing conferences or to help my client broaden their event footprint by creating and quickly sharing images guests and attendees will want to reshare.

It’s not always a perfect fit – while covering the Governor General Performing Arts Awards press conference (#ggpaa) in Montreal this month I actually tweeted out the name of a recipient BEFORE the official announcement (deleted 2 minutes later after a politely urgent message from Ottawa) but when it works, it helps spread the excitement and generate buzz about the event.

Not all photographers are going to want to multi-task for you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for their social handles and add them into your network, while sharing with them the hashtags and IG names they should reference when getting social with your event images.

And sometimes, sharing is also really funny. Like this old SNL clip of Fr Guido Sarducci’s 5 Minute University that I saw at a recent conference on autism I immediately had to go find and watch. Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 3.25.37 PM

Top five most popular blog posts

View of Montreal from atop Mount Royal, looking south to the St. Lawrence riverJust a little past the deadline for year-end reviews, I know, but I still think it worthwhile to share the top five most popular posts from blog based on how often they were viewed and read. I’ve also made a tweak to this blog to allow for comments (which I had turned off initially due to an unbelievable amount of spam), so please feel free to comment if any of the links to articles below are helpful for you.

1. Personalized family portrait sessions in your own home

2. Adding a photobooth to your next event is easier than you think

3.What’s in a photographer’s price?

4.Stop getting ripped off for wedding photography

5. What Makes a Great Wedding Photographer?

Julian Haber PhotographyAs one of Montreal’s leading corporate portrait photographers, event photographers and family portrait photographers, I want also to take this time to thank my many clients from 2012 and all the new friends who’ve liked my Facebook page and/or lePartybooth on Facebook and who’ve experienced the mad silly fun of hosting one of lePartybooth‘s madcap set ups at their event.lePartybooth If you haven’t already, please do visit either of these two sites. Many of my clients spend time on Facebook which is why these sites were created. Most (though not all) blog posts I publish here are linked to on either of those two sites so if you prefer streaming all your media through your Facebook account, then you may find it easier to follow my blog posts there.

I am always looking for new content to post here so if you have any suggestions or questions you’d like to ask a professional photographer in Montreal, please send me an email anytime.

I am looking forward to 2013 and have some exciting new ideas for a new line of personalized portraits I will be blogging about in the coming months so stay tuned and keep smiling — the best is yet to come.

 

 

I’m all in

Last weekend I was covering a poker tournament at a new casino outside of Montreal, the Stardust Poker Mansion. It was a three day, $300,000 guaranteed pot and took place over four days.

As an event photographer in Montreal, I really enjoy these kind of gigs that last longer than one night (not to mention, I am known to partake in a game or two of poker now and again).

Having a longer run to cover an event allows me, as the event photographer, to really get a feel for the space, the action and offers multiple opportunities to really nail the key shots. I’m lucky to be able to really go “all in” on my photography career and work full time as an event and portrait photographer in Montreal for a wide range of clients – individuals, corporate communications teams, and as in this case, PR companies promoting events in Montreal. Not having to divide my time between my passion and a job I do just to get by, I am able to really explore all there is to do as a working photographer in Montreal – and I also get to meet the occasional Montreal celeberity, like Jonathan Duhamel (show here and on right), the 2010 Poker World Series winner and some tough looking, but really quite friendly UFC fighters (below).

For the players in the tournament – Justin Ouimette, was the winner.

Pro event photography for your holiday party at reasonable prices

Right about this time of year people start planning their holiday parties. Invariably, as there are only a few available weekends for parties and events in December, there will be many events happening on the same dates. If you’re planning to have an event for your employees, staff, team or even family and want to have some photos taken of the event, now is the time to book.

Even if you’ve already thought of who you’ll be using, why not shop around a little? Given these times of economic austerity, it is still possible to hire a professional event photographer to cover your holiday party at a reasonable rate. I cover events throughout the year and have recently been amazed at some of the outrageous pricing my competitors charge for what should be a reasonable expense to capture the important people and moments at your company party. It’s always a good idea to shop around and ask for quotes, being sure to measure not only the bottom line, but your photographer’s attitude, demeanour and generally how you feel about him or her. Ultimately, your photographer is a guest at your event – albeit one who’s there to do a specific job for you – but still representing you and your company and you should definitely have a good rapport with him or her.  You want to be sure to get the images you need and enjoy working with your event photographer.