This summer and fall have been full of wonderful events – from book launches, to beer festivals and celebrations of powerful women in the arts. One thing they all have in common (along with the many events we have covered over the years) is ever changing lighting conditions.
Of all the things I considered writing about on this topic the one I felt would be the most helpful for a client is how to plan for successful photography at an event.
Let there be light.
The first rule of events is to light your anyone who speaks or performs on stage.
Do not assume the ambient light in the room will suffice, for example, light from the ceiling does not flatter the face creating shadows under the hairline, eyes and nose, and the neck.
Instead light the stage with a light that hits the face at a , we had some lovely lighting at the last Whitby Courthouse event and from Leo at Rent-a-Stage Canada at Whitby Beerfest. I won’t get too technical (mainly because stage lighting is not my expertise) however using a series of lights at a 45 degree angle is ideal for a stationary speaker (experts will tell you there is more to the science so using the in house professionals is always a good idea).
So if we are candid about time, daylight wins.
As the images we took at the Wild Nellies “Celebration of Women” shows working in low light or stage light can be amazing. It will however never quite add up to the beauty Mother Nature dishes up in that golden hour or through filtered window light at an event for clear, beautiful images.
Deciding when (i.e. what month of the year) and where to host your event will impact the look of the images. Natural light images were par for the course at Beerfest until the sun went down. On the lit stage at the Whitby Courthouse theatre we used the stage lighting from the lighting booth upstairs in the theatre. At the SG we used a mixture of natural light, flash and ambient lighting to capture the Drawing for Art event.
In the dark of the night.
In the absense of light and to grab images of tables at charity events such as “Starry Nights” hosted each June by the YWCA we use flash. A diffuser on the on camera light literally douses the area in front of you in light and the further away the subject is from the light source (you and your camera) the less light there is (we call that light fall off).
We recommend holding a pose for a few minutes to give the photographer a few takes. This accounts for movement, focusing and closed eyes – which the more people in a photo the more chance of a blinker.
At the podium? Here are a few tips.
If I could give someone speaking one word of advice I would say stop, look up and smile for a period of time longer than YOU think needed. This gives eye contact to the audience and gives us the 10 seconds or longer needed to take the ideal shot of you.
The pause removes shapes created by talking and replaces them with a smile. Eyes are not diverted to the podium or page but instead at your audience. Light is hitting your face and not being shadowed by a microphone. In the end this simple change will help create more effective shots of your event and your speakers/performers.
Kirsten McGoey | Visual Storyteller | www.trinitydesign.ca