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5 Tips for Shooting Events with VVIP

Hey guys, let's talk about event photography!

(Disclaimer: All the photos shown here are solely for educational purpose.)

Photographing events can be daunting, especially when it involves a VVIP and you are just starting out. Quite simply, preparation and prior photography experience are highly recommended. It requires you to be constantly aware of your surroundings and take decent photographs without disturbing the guests and the VVIP. Moreover, there will be tight SOPs to be adhered, you don't want to be kicked out of the event hall by security guards.

Below are 5 tips on how to prepare and execute the photography for your next event, especially the big one that involves VVIP.

1. Preparations

Be prepared, get to know all the important details of the event, such as any launching, important speech, MOU signature, rope cutting ceremony, gift exchange, demonstration of products and etc. Do communicate with the event organizer and get a copy of the agenda. Familiarize with the flow of the event, and you are on the way to capturing 'million-dollar' photographs for the event organizers.

If possible, be there one day before to do a mock shoot so that you can identify the best shooting spot, lighting condition of the venue. Usually for big events they will have rehearsals, do join them and observe the flow!

2. Have the Right Gear

To have the right gears is essential in getting the right shots. The bare minimum would be 2 semi-pro camera bodies, 2 speedlights, and lenses that can cover from ultra wide to medium telephoto focal range.

I would typically bring 2 DSLRs / mirrorless, with the 16-35mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm lenses.

If the venue has high ceiling, you might want to bring along a flash diffuser to be put on your speedlights. If the ceiling isn't too high and it's white, you may get away with just bounce light as fill light to your subjects.

Do ensure that your memory cards are empty, as you will be shooting in burst mode and modern cameras fill up your cards pretty fast.

Make sure you are 100% familiar with your gears. You don't want to be fumbling for the settings during the event day. Your gears should be a second nature to you, an extension to your eye, a tool that you master, or whatever you call it, you get the message! Why? Because lighting will always change, subject position will be always dynamic. Being able to instantaneously change your setting to have proper exposure is crucial.

Master your Exposure Triangle: ISO, Shuter Speed, and Aperture.

Master your Speedlight settings.

3. Be There Early

This is absolutely important, not only it gives good impression to your event organizer, but it also lets you mentally and physically settled for the shoot. As mentioned earlier, big events with VVIP may be daunting for first timers, but with preparations, and being at the venue early certainly helps.

Another important reason for being there early is to make sure you are stationed properly at where you are supposed to be stationed. Sometimes tight SOPs will have dedicated areas for media personnel. There would be many photographers / videographers on the day. All will be fighting for the best spot. So, be early, familiarize with the media zones, and get the best spot!

4. Be Mobile and Fast

During the event day, you must always be Mobile, and FAST.

Your main subject or VVIP may move from one area to another, such as coming out from his/her car, making a great entrance, or move from stage to booth visiting. Whatever it is, every movement is golden, don't miss any shot.

Always anticipate and follow the flow. Familiarizing the agenda would be a great help as you will know roughly what time your VVIP will move from one program to another.

5. Shoot RAW

ALWAYS shoot RAW for big events that involve VVIP! You have much more allowance to adjust your images in post production.

Surely there will be really good photos that are either over or under exposed. You can still save them in post-production if you shoot in RAW, especially with modern cameras!

Look at the before and after! If this photo was taken with jpeg setting, I wouldn't have been able to recover the details in the sky.

Last but not least... here's a bonus tip:

Always capture expressions. This is the single most important element to keep your event photographs lively, relevant, relatable to the audience, and timeless.

It doesn't matter what event you are shooting, anyone can be your VVIP. It can be an Olympic Gold Medalist, an artist, a politician, a company CEO, or the bride and groom, do remember emotions and expressions are priceless.

Thank you for staying till the end. If you find this post helpful, do share it with your fellow photographer friends.


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