There’s no denying it: capturing a compelling picture of a corporate or business event can be a challenge. After all, shots of people in suits networking at a conference can start to blend together. But boring corporate event photography doesn’t just reflect poorly on your brand — it can also hurt registrations. In fact, consumers use imagery as a primary way to determine the value of an event before they register.
Hope isn’t lost. There are ways to capture photos of corporate events that are unique and spark the interest of potential attendees. Use these tips from professional photographers to create compelling corporate event photography that sells registrations.
Get more tips in The Ultimate Guide to Event Photography.
1. Shoot from creative angles
If you’re hosting a business event or dinner where everyone is seated, you may have to get creative with composition to get a variety of images. “Utilize interesting angles and perspectives so the shot isn’t so utilitarian,” says Brian Beaver, VP of Design at Eventbrite.
“To keep the photos interesting, keep angles interesting,” says Christie Connell, the owner of Azure Photo Studio who shoots countless events of all kinds every year. “If there are floral arrangements, you can shoot between them. If it’s at a restaurant, go outside and take a picture looking in through the window. Look at the event not just as a participant, but from an outsider’s perspective, to get a broader sense of the day.”
2. Don’t be afraid to have fun with posed shots
While most corporate events will want a variety of shots of attendees — both candid and posed (or “grip and grin” shots, as photographers call them) — challenge yourself to get more playful.
“Often event organizers just want the ‘grip and grin,’” says Misha Vladimirskiy, a partner at Filterless.co. “That works with interesting or famous people, but when you’re doing a dinner or a speaking engagement or a fashion show, it gets repetitive. Trust your photographer’s creativity, and you’ll get images that will endure and stand alone on Instagram.”
You’re more likely to loosen attendees up when you let them have a little fun — but take your photos fast. “If you need group photos, do it quickly with a clean background, and reassure people it won’t take very long,” says James Braund, a freelance photographer in Australia.
3. Rely on natural lighting as much as possible
Try to take advantage of the natural lighting in your venue, and avoid using flash (especially on-camera flash). “Where possible, capture natural lighting, and avoid artificial lighting and flashes,” Beaver says. “Unnatural light makes your image inherently feel like a photograph, and takes viewers out of the moment.” If you really need to use flash, consider investing in event photography equipment like an off-camera flash.
If you do need flash and are taking shots of attendees, have them turn slightly to the side so they’re not facing the camera head-on. “This will reduce red eye in your pictures, because that’s caused when light enters the subject’s eyes at a right angle,” says David Silverman, owner of David Silverman Photography.
4. Know before the event how you plan on using the photos
To get the most value possible, let the photographer know where you plan on using these images: on your event page? In a Flickr gallery? In social media posts? A banner ad or physical posters?
“It’s tempting to say you’ll use them anywhere, so consider where you get the most value out of photos now,” says Braund. “If it’s Instagram first and foremost, I’ll know to shoot wider so they can crop in. If it’s for long narrow posters or web banners, that’s more restrictive so I’ll compose accordingly.”
If you host a repeat event like a class or training, you’ll want to keep that in mind when you request shots. If shots from one event will be used for marketing year-round, be sure to avoid any seasonal details in your corporate event photography.
“You may make different choices depending on if your event is a one-time event or repeating” Beaver says. “If your event repeats, you want to make your photos as evergreen as possible, avoiding anything in them that might feel dated or like a uniquely identifiable time or location. If you have repeating classes, and only pictures of people bundled up in January, that may hurt your marketing in the summer.”
5. Use abstract shots for marketing
Another note: while it’s important to get shots of attendees having fun, it’s also important to get more abstract shots that aren’t focused on individuals. This is especially true if you’ll be using your corporate event photography for marketing.
“As people we focus on faces,” Beaver says. “That can be positive and powerful — but it can also be a distraction. So if you’re trying to portray a professional networking event, it may be easier for the attendee to imagine themselves within the scene of an abstract image with a slight blur.”
6. Work around fluorescent lights
If your event takes place in a large conference hall or meeting room, you’re likely stuck with fluorescent lights. Don’t turn to flash to fix this — instead, color balance settings will be key for your corporate event photography.
“Fluorescent lighting makes for a color balance challenge,” says Connell. “The main thing you have to pay attention to is the color — use a custom white balance to even out the fluorescent tone you get. By correcting for that while you’re shooting, you avoid that jaundice skin tone color that can be created from that lighting situation. If you’re inside, you can bounce light off the walls or ceiling to make for a more natural feel.”
7. Map out shots of speakers & stakeholders ahead of time
If your corporate event features speakers, sponsors, or stakeholders who absolutely need to be in photos, let your photographer know ahead of time. “Are there key people at the event that I need to follow?” Silverman says. “If so, the event organizer should point them out or have a staff member help me.”
Note on a map of the venue where people will be coming from and walking to, and give your photographer a shot list of photos you absolutely need. If there are key attendees who must be photographed, point them out to the photographer. And if there’s anyone who would prefer not to be photographed, make sure the photographer is aware of that as well.
8. Rely on your venue to find a photographer
Having trouble hiring the right photographer for your corporate event? You could also ask your venue if they have an in-house photographer. They may be willing to shoot the event in exchange for tagging the venue and photographer in your social promotion. Even if you have to pay them, venue photographers will know the space best and can share learnings from other events in the space.
To learn more corporate event photography tips from seven professional photographers, check out the Ultimate Guide to Event Photography.