A civilised afternoon tea, shaving the boss’s widely criticised moustache, heartfelt speeches and plenty of fizz?
It was great to be asked back again for a third year running to photograph the annual ”Kick Off” event for corporate workspace designers Peldon Rose (I also photograph their head shots for their website). It’s an annual celebration of what’s great at Peldon Rose - both the staff and their achievements throughout the year. They really are like a supportive family to each other, and they know how to have fun too!
The Photographic Brief
There was a fair amount to photograph in this event - four locations, a few different speakers, awards and some shots of the rooms when they were empty, for internal use, so they have a record of how they planned the event. Images were to be mostly horizontal (landscape) format, and in my usual unobtrusive, candid style.
My point of contact Tom gives me clear guidelines on what he needs, but keeps it open enough for me to go around photographing what I think Peldon Rose will need for their social media, newsletter and internal distribution. I have photographed plenty of their corporate events in the past, so we have a good working relationship and a clear understanding. The technical challenges were the most common for events in hotels and theatre type environments - very low light, and the light that does exist tends to be pointing directly into the frame, which requires special attention. I switch to prime lenses with optimal lens hoods and minimal glass, keep angles relevant to the lighting in the room, and pay extra special attention to any dust on the surface of the lens. This helps to reduce flare as much as possible. I’ll then work on any images that exhibit the ”wrong kind” of flare in post processing - sometimes flare can be a really beautiful thing, so it’s a creative process when dealing with this kind of lighting. Other tricks involve waiting for someone to open the door in the theatre (there’s always one!) which helps to light up the back of the audience so they can be seen better during photos of speeches. But the most important thing of all is to capture the special moments - so it’s a constantly stimulating balance between the technical side of things and capturing the joy of the event.
Ham Yard Hotel - What’s It Like?
WOW is what it’s like! The artwork on the walls is quite stunning, a personal highlight being an Alexander Calder textile, and the wallpaper in the bar which is made up of monumental scale pieces of hand painted linen which felt more like abstract expressionism than anything decorative. The service seemed impeccable. The atmosphere in each room was sophisticated, relaxed and comfortable. I live about 15 minutes from Ham Yard Hotel (it’s in Soho) so booking a room seems a little extravagant, but I’m seriously considering going back for the afternoon tea.
NCTJ put on a fantastic awards ceremony and gala at Quendon Hall in Essex, to celebrate some of the extraordinary achievements throughout the students’ time at the organisation. I have photographed a number of events for them, and the students are always really lovely to work with.
The Photographic Brief
The brief was to photograph guests in a natural, candid and unobtrusive manner, mostly in the horizontal (landscape) format. The awards were documented with the posed handshake on stage as per the usual manner at a gala. One group shot of all the winners was required for social media within just a couple of minutes after I had photographed it - this is often possible if arranged in advance. I then took the initiative to take a few more off-stage posed shots of students and recent graduates feeling a bit more relaxed after the shock of winning! As is usual with NCTJ, the brief itself was exceptionally well executed, which helped everything to go smoothly.
Thankfully I’ve been shooting these ceremonies for a number of years, and so the (highly challenging) aspects of photographing galas comes quite naturally to me - this means I can concentrate more on the feeling of the photography, and the technicalities are fairly instinctive! For this event I used two high end Canon DSLR’s, a small Fuji camera for wide-angled close-ups to get a really casual and “immediate” party atmosphere, and a variety of prime and zoom lenses which I keep in a bag off to one side of the room. I used flash occasionally, which I balanced using gels (clear coloured plastic) to mimic the effect of the naturally warm lighting of the room. I also used my laptop for immediate image editing of the group shot which was then transferred to a USB stick, to put onto the event organiser’s own laptop.
Galas are one of the more challenging of events for photographers and event planners alike, which is why I’m always both excited and really careful to get the event photography details carefully set out before the big night. There are usually plenty of details that need to be photographed, and a selection of images are often required very soon after or even during the event. Regardless of my own business interests, I would say that a gala and awards ceremony event should always be photographed by a reliable, competent professional with high end equipment. The available lighting tends to be coloured, low in brightness and directional, with people’s expressions changing during animated conversation fairly constantly. Drinks, nibbles, complex shadows and so on will add to the complexity of getting a wide variety of flattering shots.
Sounds Like Hard Work!
It’s that kind of hard work that I really enjoy - constant stimulation and so many things to photograph, great people, and happy clients!
It was an honour to photograph the “Great British Spring Clean: Battersea Community Event” on Saturday. It was great to see kids and adults alike discovering the extraordinary variety of things to see. There were crabs, tiny shrimp (or prawns?), centuries old pottery, fascinating bits of glass, massive iron nails, entire chairs and chunks of table, and of course the countless bits of harmful plastic that get washed up by the river, often coming from household waste being poorly disposed of.
The Photographic Brief
I was asked to photograph the event in my usual style: candid, unobtrusive, and showing off the best of the event, and three slightly more specific requests: 50-70 images mostly horizontal (landscape) in format, something nice with the branding banner in the background showing #OneLess (below) and then finish off the day with a group shot. I must admit, I was booked for 3 hours but stayed a bit longer so I could do some foraging myself! As an ex-potter I find the riverside fascinating.
There are always certain challenges in event photography, and this was no exception. Although it was a short stretch of river, through the lens the volunteers start to look rather thinly spread, even though there was a good turnout. I mitigated this by focussing on smaller groups of individuals and often letting the background go pleasingly blurry but still recognisable (known as shallow depth of field). I set the white balance a little warmer than neutral, to reflect the warmth of the community atmosphere (even if the air itself was a bit chilly). I used two high-end Canon DSLRs, with a few different lenses. The event was on the Saturday and I was asked to provide images some time the following week - they were ready for co-ordinator Abbi on the Monday.
Did they like the photos?
“Wowwee your photos are BRILLIANT!!!! I like them a lot - thank so you much!!!” I think that’s a yes then! Thanks Abbi!