You don’t always need a pro to capture your event.  How do you decide whether you should, and what to do when you are DIY’ing it with your phones:

  1. Decide why are you bothering? Real PR or just a bit of fun? Too many times we snap away randomly, then after the event we either never look at the pictures or scramble to find ones that we can use for PR.  So first, figure out where are your pictures or video going to end up and for what reason.  Is it something new customers or perspective employees will see in the future months/years, or a fleeting Facebook or twitter or internal comms post? Is it a special corporate or personal event you’d like to capture for years to come? Is there an album or press marketing in the final result? If it’s a video, what are the 3 main messages you want your audience to get from it?
  2. Do you hire a Pro or DIY? Now you know what it’s for, do you need a slick and professional look or are you OK with a bit of red-eye, dodgy lighting and leaving your branding to luck.  Is it a team building or personal event, in which case would it be a nice touch for your guests to be able to download professional photos at the end or not?   If it’s a video does it need to look and SOUND professional? (remember bad sound can ruin a movie even more than bad footage)..   If the answers are mostly yes or not sure, then you really are safer investing in a professional photographer or videographer.  you’re only a click away from one!  If not, then a photography/video enthusiast in your company might do the job just fine with their phone. Ideally have 2 or 3 ‘sidekicks’ shooting photos as well. If it’s a video, please don’t just tell the person “can you video the event”  and leave him to it!!!!!  There’s a lot of method to the madness, so be sure he understands the key messages of the video, who will edit it,  will the tinny phone sound be enough for you, how will they be paid for their time (it’s not a 30 min job), how will they capture sound, will it include any voxpops? what sort of answers do you want (avoid the cringe obvious  ‘it was a great event!!) , what questions will you ask? What shots do you need to make sure you get etc.etc etc.. this needs a whole other blog!
  3. Find your Anchor Background Look for branding – anything with your event or company name.  This becomes your anchor background in as many shots as possible.
  4. The Wide shot. Captures the whole event. Gives a sense of place. Stand in a corner (ideally where you can have branding in your shot), stand on a chair if you have to, take a Pano shot, whatever works. [If you are on your phone, you can’t rely much on the piddly flash for low light shots]
  5. The Stars of the Night. Consider who would attract the most attention for PR purposes?  Is it the host, is it a key guest or speaker.  Get as many shots of those guys and girls.  If you are videoing, decide which of your guests will by interviewing as a quick Vox pop and make sure whoever does them knows what they’re doing. [Note photography with phone+flash = delay so try turning the flash off depending on the light. Video with phone = bad sound so try get a hold of an external mic and if low light, then you’ll need a portable light ]
  6. The-Guest-shots ( it took me years to learn this )–   When photographing events in early years, I used to hover around people trying not to be noticed, waiting for the candid shots. Of course people’s glances kept flitting towards me…which was annoying for me and them. Then eureka! All I needed to do was go up to people, hover only just long enough to not interrupt their converstation and be bold  “Can I take a quick picture of you guys?” They are standing close, they are looking at the camera,  you are making some comment about one of them, they look at him/her, they laugh CLICK! Now they don’t care about you any more, they relax, ignore you ..NOW you can take the candid shots.  [DIYers: Apart from getting over the flash delay on your phone,  also lenses on phone cameras can be quite wide, so if you’re too close, portrait faces can look distorted, best step back, and zoom in a bit.. ]
  7. The Hello-magazine shots – Look for the coolest outfits, the most good-looking guests, the biggest jokers, snap away, but don’t get trigger happy – see later no.9
  8. The Close-ups – This is where good cameras can make a difference. But anyway, Nicely presented food, wine pouring, shiny stuff, bold colours, cake, trophies, location signage…again… always with no.1 WHY in mind.
  9. Less is more – A good photographer in my opinion is not a trigger-happy one. None of your guests, nor your marketing department want to be presented with 1000’s of pics for an event. For the final consolidation of pictures, I often delete on average 1 in 3 photos, and aim to end up with the magic number 100 and for small events 40-50.
  10. It ain’t over till it’s out there. You’ve taken the pics. That was the fun bit.. But, your job hasn’t finished till the right pictures or video, reach the right audience, though the right media, at the right time!  And the proof of your success is in whatever happens next!