The psych job.
Look before you leap.
Find a balance between being conspicuous and inconspicuous.
Don’t hesitate to take charge.
Overcoming objections to be photographed.
Bravery in the field.
Act like you belong there.
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Many photographers make a living shooting all kinds of events, from weddings to family gatherings to corporate receptions. Whether you’ve set your sights on generating income from this professional niche or are already a practicing events photographer, the most difficult skill to develop for many photographers is how to “work the room.”
The most successful events photographers have the people skills to interact with guests in a pleasant, but proactive manner, so they are sure to capture the images their clients expect. Event photographers can’t be shy or aggressive, but must find a middle ground where they can mingle with the crowd and create genuine connections with their subjects. The following 8 tips should help you acquire the necessary people skills, which are more likely to garner you repeat business.
Each event will have a slightly different vibe. The wedding is a family event; the corporate presentation or reception is still all business, even though people are having fun and enjoying themselves. Much like an athlete, understand the parameters of each event, and then psych yourself, accordingly. Find the right energy level and assume an attitude or mood that matches the event.
Spend the first 5 to 10 minutes in a crowded room by simply observing the space and the people in it. Keep you camera in the bag, so people don’t immediately identify you. Find your contact and greet him or her first, and then roam the room looking for the most vivacious people, the extroverts that seem to be the catalysts that start others talking, smiling, laughing and gesturing. They are the initial sources of your best images.
One of the more daring people skills you must develop is to be willing to thrust yourself (and your camera) into the middle of a group. It’s important to be charming, but respectful, and create an atmosphere of fun, so everyone will cooperate and stand together for a variety of group photos. The transference of your enthusiastic and pleasant attitude to the individuals in the group typically results in much better images.
The opposite of plunging into a group is to be inconspicuous with a telephoto lens, shooting people from a distance, so you capture their natural behaviors, expressions and reactions.
If you’ve thrust yourself into a group with a friendly attitude and have added a bit of fun, then use the group members’ positive reaction to your “intrusion” to direct and pose them. Learn to make it a natural progression, from talking with people to suggesting where they should stand and with whom for a picture.
Experienced events photographers will tell you that few people honestly don’t want to be photographed. Understanding those that do is another important skills. Once they are insistent, then show your respect for their wishes and look for another subject. For those guests who are simply shy, first be honest and explain why you’ve targeted them for a picture. Often, you can break through their defenses by complimenting them on their apparel, how a woman has arranged her hair, the jewelry she is wearing, etc. Don’t be afraid to use their vanity as an advantage to capture the photos you want.
You must also be conscious that your client may have requested that you photograph specific guests, the main speaker, etc. If these people are defensive, then explain that their host has asked you to photograph them. Honesty is the best policy and is more likely to make them acquiesce than appearing to be a pest.
Your goal is the best pictures possible and any that your clients has specifically requested. To succeed, you can’t be hesitant about moving throughout the room, even though everyone is seated and intently listening to a speaker. You may have to position yourself at the front of the room to photograph someone walking toward the dais to receive an award or speak to the audience. You may even have to walk onto the stage and in front of a speaker to capture those close-up images that your client expects to see.
As you develop the people skills to interact with guests in a pleasing, happy manner, you essentially become an equal member of the group. If you don’t treat them like strangers, then they will usually not treat you as one either.
It may be difficult to define confidence, but successful events photographers have it. Learn to look people in the eye and be willing to explain that you have a job to do. You must find that fine line between being forceful (and appearing disagreeable) and exhibiting a confidence that causes people to be cooperative and want to have their pictures taken.
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Ario pandu leksana
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