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11 Tips for Pro-Level Conference Photography

Tips for pro-level conference photography

Looking to elevate your conference photography? You’ve come to the right place.

We’ve compiled a treasure trove of tips that will empower you to take your conference photos to new heights. From ensuring you’re equipped with the right gear to tricks for capturing those candid, authentic moments, we’ve got you covered.

Conference photography isn’t just about creating record shots; it’s about capturing the essence of knowledge exchange, the thrill of networking, and the stories that unfold in these vibrant settings. So join us as we uncover the techniques that will enable you to create visually engaging and impactful images. Get ready to immortalize those remarkable conference moments like never before!

1. Bring extra batteries, memory cards, your cables, and chargers

It may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people find themselves in a bind halfway through the day, desperately searching for spare batteries, especially when things are just heating up. So do yourself a favor and bring at least one extra set of batteries.

Remember, if you’re using a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, you can’t just pop into the nearest corner store to grab a battery replacement. I’d recommend investing in a spare battery (or two). At the very least, make sure you bring your charger!

As for memory cards, I don’t know about you, but most folks don’t fill up a card during a conference. Nevertheless, it never hurts to have some backups handy; you never know when a card might be lost or stop working. You may also want to bring a card reader!

how to photograph a conference

And let’s not forget about cables. It seems like at every conference I attend, I end up loaning out my cable to various attendees. People always seem to leave their cables at home, yet if you want to transfer and store photos successfully, it’s a good idea to have the relevant cables on hand.

In my trusty gear bag, I always have spare batteries for my camera along with chargers and cables. These items never leave my bag, ensuring they’re always within reach when I need them. Oh, and my spare memory card? It’s securely attached to my camera strap, so I never have to frantically search for it.

2. Get off Auto mode

One of the best pieces of advice I received about using my point-and-shoot camera was to break free from the shackles of Auto mode. Why, you ask? Because it grants you more control. Once you’ve left Auto behind, you can adjust the white balance, play around with the ISO, and sometimes even tinker with the aperture and shutter speed.

When you rely on Auto mode, your pictures tend to have that generic vacation snapshot vibe. You know the one: a bright flash, everything in focus, with a touch of graininess.

Which mode should you use instead? Allow me to introduce you to Aperture Priority mode. It lets you fine-tune the aperture, and ISO independently so you can nail the image exposure. Alternatively, Shutter Priority mode can also come in handy, especially when capturing action-packed moments. It gives you control over the shutter speed, allowing you to freeze or blur motion as desired.

I understand that diving into these modes might feel a bit intimidating, but trust me, it’s worth it. Take some time to practice before your next conference. That way, when the big day arrives, you’ll be well-prepared to seize the perfect shots.

3. Be unobtrusive

When I’m behind the camera at a conference, my mission is to blend in seamlessly. I don’t want to attract attention or be noticed. Instead, I aim to capture people in their most authentic moments – absorbed in the presentations, flashing genuine smiles, or simply immersed in the conference experience. I steer clear of orchestrated poses because 90% of the time people prefer candid shots of themselves. Those natural, relaxed, and real images tell a powerful story.

Conference photography tips

Now, being part of the wall doesn’t mean becoming a stalker or acting like a paparazzo. It’s about maintaining a respectful distance and watching the scene unfold organically. The secret to capturing those fleeting moments lies in being present, not manufacturing them.

To achieve this, it’s advantageous to work with unobtrusive equipment like a smaller camera and lens. Additionally, if your camera offers a quiet shooting mode, I highly recommend using it. Modern mirrorless cameras have truly silent shooting modes, eliminating the risk of your subjects overhearing the shutter and feeling self-conscious.

4. Pay attention to the background

In many ways, the background is just as important as the main subject itself. In fact, it can make or break a great shot.

You definitely don’t want random objects like trees or light posts sprouting out of people’s heads in your photos. It won’t look professional, and it’ll stop the viewers from focusing on what matters: the conference presenters and attendees.

Conference photography tips

So before you press the shutter button, take a quick glance at the background. Are there any weird or distracting elements creeping in? If so, pause for a moment and recompose your shot.

If you find yourself in a crowded area, try getting closer to your subject and using a wider aperture such as f/2.8 to create a lovely background blur. This technique will help minimize any distracting elements, allowing your subject to truly shine.

5. Try not to use the flash

Capturing great photos at a conference can be quite a challenge. Most of the time, the lighting leaves much to be desired, tempting you to resort to the flash for brighter shots. However, using the on-camera flash often does more harm than good. It flattens textures, robs your images of depth, and can give people that unflattering deer-in-the-headlights look.

Instead of reaching for the flash, consider alternative approaches to getting well-lit photos. One option is to widen the aperture, allowing more light to enter the lens. Another technique is to boost the ISO, which increases the camera’s sensitivity to light. (Be cautious, though, as pushing the ISO too high can introduce unsightly noise into your shots. Thankfully, modern cameras excel at handling high ISOs and can often shoot at ISO 3200 and beyond without significant noise.)

Additionally, keep an eye out for areas of the conference that enjoy natural light or strong artificial illumination. Position yourself near windows or close to powerful light sources to take advantage of the available lighting conditions.

6. Pay attention to the lighting

Photography, whether it’s capturing breathtaking landscapes or documenting conferences, revolves around one crucial element: light. It’s essential to be mindful of how light, whether it’s the natural glow of the sun or artificial illumination, interacts with your subjects.

When you first enter each new conference room, take a moment to observe the scene. Is the front bathed in brilliant sunlight streaming through a window? Are there areas of brightness and darkness? Perhaps the venue lacks natural light, relying solely on artificial sources?

Conference photography tips

These lighting situations may seem daunting, but don’t be afraid. Embrace them as opportunities to unleash your creativity. Backlit shots, for instance, where subjects are silhouetted against the light, possess a captivating charm. Additionally, playing with the interplay of light and shadows opens up a variety of photographic styles.

Remember, the key is to adapt and make the most of the available light to craft stunning images. Let your skills shine and capture the beauty that unfolds before you!

7. Shoot in RAW

When it comes to capturing stunning conference photos, here’s a pro tip: shoot in RAW. While JPEGs might look okay and are easy to share online, they actually delete crucial data that could enhance your shots later on.

RAW files, on the other hand, preserve every bit of information your camera captures. This means you’ll have greater flexibility in post-processing, allowing you to make precise adjustments and bring out the best in your images – a step I highly recommend.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that switching your camera to RAW is a game-changer. It gives you the ability to salvage overexposed or underexposed pixels in files that contain extreme light and dark areas. Say goodbye to missed opportunities for a perfect shot if you work in RAW!

Plus, working with RAW files makes color correction a breeze and even opens up possibilities for cinematic color grading for those seeking a more artistic touch.

8. Take lots of photos

People often ask me, “How did you manage to get that amazing shot?” Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s a combination of luck and an active shutter finger. When I first got my hands on a DSLR, someone told me to snap at least three pictures per composition, and it was outstanding advice.

Why? Because people tend to blink, look away, and do all sorts of unpredictable things. By firing off a rapid succession of shots, you significantly increase your chances of capturing the composition you’re after.

By the way, this is where continuous shooting modes come in handy. Set your camera to its burst mode, and when you hold down the shutter button, it will capture a series of shots in quick succession.

But don’t go overboard. While it’s essential to take multiple images, the more you snap, the more you’ll have to sift through later, which can be a real pain. Find the right balance between capturing too little and capturing too much.

how to photograph a conference

9. Zoom less, walk more

They say zoom lenses have made photographers lazy. I’m not sure about that, but here’s the thing: When you move around, get closer, and try different angles, you often capture better shots.

Personally, I rely on an 85mm f/1.8 prime lens for most of my conference photos, which means no zooming. If I want something to fill more of the frame, I have to step in closer. And you know what? When making my compositional adjustments, I sometimes stumble upon unexpected approaches that make the picture even more captivating.

Conference photography tips

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you ditch zoom lenses altogether. I have a trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 lens specifically for conferences (it performs exceptionally well in low-light situations) that allows me to zoom in on speakers when I can’t physically get closer. However, whenever possible, I try to make my adjustments physically rather than with my lens.

10. Have fun

Conference photography can be a whirlwind of fast-paced, high-pressure moments. But amid all the challenges, there’s an opportunity for a great deal of enjoyment. You just have to be willing to seize it!

Even when you’re getting paid to capture the event, remember to inject some fun into your work. Seek out those humorous shots that bring a smile to your face, and don’t shy away from exploring your artistic side. Carve out a few moments for yourself.

And if shooting does start to feel like a chore, unless you’re on the clock, try setting the camera aside and focusing on the experience!

11. Don’t obsess over gear

Sure, I’ve got top-notch professional gear that I use to capture pictures for clients, but you know what? My trusty point-and-shoot camera is still plenty capable!

Having a wallet-draining collection of equipment doesn’t automatically make you a master photographer. Conversely, you can work wonders with a plastic toy camera. Remember, cameras are merely tools, so there’s no need to feel inferior to the guy flaunting a lens bigger than a toddler. The real secret lies in your ability to shoot, have a blast, and constantly experiment.

So loosen your grip on gear and embrace the joy of capturing moments. It’s all about pushing boundaries and discovering your own photographic magic.

Conference photography tips: final words

conference photography tips

And there you have it, folks! My top 11 tips for capturing amazing conference photos. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie with a camera, these tips are bound to level up your game, so commit them to memory and use them at your next conference.

Remember, preparation is key. Don’t forget those extra batteries, memory cards, chargers, and cables. You don’t want to be that person desperately searching for power outlets or begging strangers for spare gear.

Next up, take control of your camera settings instead of working on Auto. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

But perhaps the most important tip of all is to be unobtrusive. Blend into the background, be the wall, and capture those natural, candid moments that tell the real story of the conference. No one wants forced poses or awkward smiles. Keep it real!

Armed with these tips, you’re ready to conquer the world of conference photography like a pro. Go out there, capture those stories, and let your lens do the talking!

Now over to you:

Which of these conference photo tips do you plan to use first? Do you have any tips that I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Tris Hussey is a photographer and writer based in Vancouver, BC. He writes about tech, social media, and photography at www.trishussey.com.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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