Event Photography Case Study



Photographer and Post-Production - Louise Bagger

Client - Hannah McVicar, The Collaborative, Commonwealth Bank



I have a confession to make, I love photographing detail, no matter what the event. I am quite happy to be left to my own devices to capture the mood, the environment and the bits and pieces that go together to define an event. In fact, so much so that I have to consciously tell myself to stop - "You've got it!!"


For me, there are three main elements to capturing and event whether it's a private or corporate.


1. Who are the important people and what are the important elements for the event?


I need to know who and what to focus on. For a private event such as a special birthday, it's usually the guest of honour but there may be other significant people attending from interstate or overseas. For a large corporate event there may be a special guest speaker that I need to know about but I have also been asked to specifically capture the entertainment that has been arranged - a band, opera chorus, comedian and even a sketch artist.


For any large scale event, the coordinator will have a schedule run sheet detailing when things will happen and by whom - speeches, entertainment, awards presentation etc. I will always ask for this schedule and discuss the photo angles from where I will capture it. At times, the coordinator will make suggestions as to the best position to stand however I am never afraid to offer my input and to state photographic elements that they may not necessarily think about - lighting, background distractions etc.


I am the professional and they look to me for that direction.


2. What are they looking for from the imagery from the event?


What I am asking here is whether they are looking for set group shots of the guests or more casual documentary style. Depending on the event and guest list, will also determine this brief. For corporate events, I may be asked to capture just a small handful of set group shots with the main focus being presentations, speeches and overall feel of the event. For private events, it is most definitely about the set group shots and because of this, I stick close by to the guest of honour as they mingle around the room so I can encourage these shots to occur.


3. Shooting the event


I will always arrive early for any event - sometimes up to 30 minutes before my scheduled start time. Other photographers will differ with this but for me, I need to feel settled, find somewhere to stash my bags and have a good look around the venue without my camera. Also, I need time to catch up with the event coordinator for any last minute details or changes to the run sheet. He or she will be running around like crazy making final arrangements but I will prepare them before I arrive that I will need 5 to 10 minutes of their time. My 'official' start time will take into account giving time for the detail photos before guests start to arrive - I find that 30 minutes can cover this.


NB: My Terms & Conditions state clearly that I retain all copyright and the usage is made clear to my client that the images cannot be provided to any third parties beyond the scope of the contract. (ie caterers, florists, musicians etc).




They wanted me to pay close attention to the detail and the theme of the event which was 'aviation'. The event was staged at Adelaide Airport in a commercial hangar with the guests being from a select group of South Australian Commonwealth Bank business clients. There wasn't to be a huge focus on set group shots but I was asked to capture a small handful as I deemed appropriate. By this, I know they looked to me to gauge the crowd and individual groups.


My one big piece of advice here is..... watch for eye contact. When I am canvasing the room and watching the different groups, I can quickly ascertain whether or not to approach for a group shot. I can usually tell an involved conversation from one that is more casual. The eye contact, when they see the photographer lurking around, will either be an invitation to approach or a message of 'no thank you'! I can't tell you how I gauge this - it's a 'thing'.


Photography was scheduled for 3 hours under somewhat challenging lighting conditions, however, as I arrived early, I had time to test my camera settings working with and without speed-lite. The detail shots were, for the most part, taken without speed-lite in order to truly capture the awesome light display around the room. I tend to prefer to take detail shots without the speed-lite and to instead bump up the iso and set a wider aperture. Sometimes it can't be avoided so I will add a gentle fill and set the flash to point up or slightly back. My choice of diffuser is the MagMod 'MagSphere' a seriously awesome piece of kit. (Available through digiDirect) All set group shots were taken with speed-lite, diffused with the MagSphere pointed up. There was only one speaker for the evening which included one presentation to a long-standing client who had also reached a significant birthday.


General camera setting for the detail and room shots was 1/100, F2.8, ISO range from 1600-3200. For speech, 1/100, F4, ISO range from 800 to 1600 with speed-lite set to manual.


I provided my client with a USB of high and low resolution edited jpg files. My fee is all-inclusive of photography coverage and provision of files. In this instance, I provided 170 images which works out to my average estimate of around 60 per hour of coverage.


See full blog post of images here at louisebagger.com.au